Alexa Chung – It*
When Alexa and Alexandra Shulman of British Vogue entered the lecture theatre, suddenly the grande, historical interior transformed into a cosy living room. I got so comfortable, I almost found myself resting my feet on the head of the gentleman in front of me (it’s not that you have a comfy-looking head, sir, it’s just that I started feeling extremely relaxed. Forgive me?). I was moments away from asking my boyfriend to pass me the beer, only to snap out of it and realise that it was the V&A lecture hall I was at and it wasn’t a onesie I was wearing, but vintage Dior. My boyfriend wasn’t there either, I was sitting next to a lovely girl who probably ended up thinking I was some sort of weirdo. Oh well.
That’s how Alexa Chung made me feel.
Cool and collected, in a stunning dusty pink Emilia Wickstead (I wanted to match my book) and “knuhhag bropfffeeeee something” shoes, Alexa spoke about her life in the spotlight and what happens when the lights dim.
It – is it it or is it not?
I love a good coffee table book. It is one of those. The format is not traditional and is purposely inconsistent. Think of it as Alexa’s blog, only printed. Imagine every topic as a separate blog post covering topics that are dear to Alexa’s heart, from grandpa Kwan’s extremely cool style to tweeting about coffee spills and everything in between.
There is a number of ways you can read the book. You can read it cover to cover, you can flick through the pages, you can skim through the copy, hell, you can make a number up, open that page and read it – you will get your time’s worth. The beautiful part is that this format allows you to dip in and out whenever you like – there are no strings attached. It is you literary friend with benefits which is there for you when you need it.
Alexa’s writing style is synonymous to her personality. If she thinks it, she will say it, and then publish it too. Expect pearls like: “I am obsessed with moisturising. I am also obsessed with cigarettes – so I I like to think that the two balance each other out” or “I have started putting nail varnishes in the fridge to keep them nice but now there’s nowhere to put the butter”. About the latter, I do that too by the way, it works.
In a nutshell, It is a collection of personal memories and anecdotes that make the author and the reader connect. While reading is a passive activity generally speaking, It leaves an impression of a dialogue between the author and the reader, just like blogs do. You will be left feeling as if you just went for a nice cold pint with Ms Chung. Maybe asked her for a lighter too once you stepped into the pub garden.
Alexa on hair
“Boys say they don’t mind how you get your hair done. But then they leave you for someone with really great standard girl hair and the next thing you know you’re alone with a masculine crop crying into your granola.”
I like the fact It has a lot of hairspiration. I like the fact that there is a lot of emphasis on the fact that it is ok to be confused about what hair style suits you. I still have no idea what hair cut could be my signature one. I think I never will. And that’s ok. I am not alone.
While most of us shiver at the thought that our hair isn’t perfect for a really important occasion. Meanwhile Alexa confessed that she prays to go out of the salon with her signature messy sexy do. She told us that often her hair will have an overly good day and that in Chungland this simply won’t do, for Alexa is famous for her perfect imperfection. It was refreshing to find out that she’s like all of us: thanking the hair stylist politely, and then going home and redoing it. Sound familiar?
Alexa on social media
“Social networking in an ironic name for something that has little to do with connecting us with others and everything to do with self-promotion.”
Alexa’s is a very straightforward, down-to-earth approach to Twitter, Instagram among other social platforms. She revealed that a few hate-messages made her hide her Instagram account from the public’s eye. Thoughtless dialogue, hate for the sake of hate, compliments for the sake of compliments can make the social sphere the loneliest place online. I guess one can feel lonely both within real and virtual crowds.
Alexa on fashion
“Looking effortless takes a lot of effort.”
Alexa’s fashion icons are as cool as her fashion sense. First up, we’ve got Wednesday Addams, we also have the Spice Girls, followed closely by Winona Ryder during her Heathers day, and lest we forget Grandpa Kwan and – as Alexa reminisced – two particularly stylish school teachers. One of my favourite references is Eddie Sedgwick, as I too, have a particularly warm spot for her. I remember myself thinking one time… Why is it that all of my icons are either dead or fictional? While Alexa’s are not like mine, she does reference the living, you can definitely see her sentiments shine through her style. The collection of her memories, her love of clothes, her influencers as seen through her eyes is what makes Ms Chung a modern icon and muse to many.
I decided to open the Q&A session and ask Alexa what her pet peeve was. She laughed and said she didn’t know she had one until the day before – when she saw those sporty socks/shoes with toes things. She thought these were horrid. Are they a thing? she asked me back. I hope not, I replied without a microphone and yet I am sure the whole of V&A heard me.
According to Andy Warhol, fame lasts fifteen minutes. He is right. Alexa’s fifteen minutes are up as her fame morphed into legend.
*All of Alexa’s quotes cited in this piece are either from the book or from the event.