Being Alexa Chung must be strange. Because, for someone so famous, the question often volleyed around is: what does she actually do? Of course, Alexa does quite a lot. She started modelling at 16, then became known to a wider audience at 22 as host of cult music show Pop World. Since then, she’s worn the hats of designer, writer, brand ambassador, businesswoman and, as is de rigueur for any millennial poster girl, occasional DJ. She’s a renaissance woman for the Instagram generation.
For someone so ubiquitous, Alexa, 34, is oddly elusive and almost impossible to pinpoint, a curious mix of spiky guardedness and disarming frankness, who can switch from bombshell to goofball with a tilt of the head. As we talk, she ricochets in and out of different voices (a Zoolander-ish male model, an angry Instagram commenter) and jumps from topic to topic. She would have been a great actress – and, in a way, she has been.
What there is no doubt about is that Alexa is a style icon for women who are too cool to admit it. In an age when social media has flattened personal style, millions hang on her every hemline. It’s hard to think of anyone whose aesthetic has been so forensically examined (she must be sick of talking about Peter Pan collars and denim cut-offs by now). For all the Chungaholics out there, she arrives for the Grazia shoot wearing an old fluffy APC jacket, maroon Joseph trousers plus Superga hi-tops and a T-shirt of her own design.
Transitioning from muse to designer feels like a natural progression. Her sell-out collabs (with the likes of AG Jeans and M&S) have always felt authentic. Take this spring’s collaboration with Superga, in which she’s created "dream versions" of the kicks she already wears. She’s been brand ambassador at Superga since 2011, but her personal relationship with them goes back further: "My mum’s been wearing them forever," she says.
The Superga collection is actually a collaboration with Alexa’s own label, ALEXACHUNG, which she finally launched after years of specuation (and wishful thinking) last year. "It’s been amazing,’ she says. ‘It’s a
lot of responsibility but it’s fulfilling. Any energy you’re putting in that direction is less like pouring your love down a well and more like building something."
What she’s building is a bona fide global brand – no mean feat in a tough economic climate. The clothes are selling: ALEXACHUNG has 140 stockists in over 22 countries and has surpassed financial projections. There is a staff of 25, including MD Edwin Bodson, who came from French brand Haider Ackermann. This is a grown-up, functioning business, not a vanity project. She might have been in the public eye for a decade "whether you like it or not!", but the brand is a start-up and she’s working her butt off to make it a success.
words: Laura Antonia Jordan
Grazia's full interview with Alexa, where she reveals what kind of boss she is (hint: opinionated), what she missed most about London when living in New York and which celebrtity friends she is "stuck with" for life, is on sale Thursday.