Alexa Chung is the quintessential ‘It Girl,’ someone admired and envied just for being her effortlessly fabulous self. It makes sense then, that the British model, television host, and style icon’s first book is called IT, a pseudo-journal where Chung lets her readers in on her influences, inspirations, and inner world. Music, fashion, boyfriends–it’s all there. Alexa has it, and you want it. We caught up with the 29 year old recently to talk about the unique genesis of IT, how her modelling career has evolved, dealing with critics, and her undying love of shoes.
You chose not to be on the cover of your book. Is there a specific reason for that?
I imagine everyone else is as sick of my face as I am. I don’t need to shove it on anything else. It never even occurred to me to put a picture of myself on the cover. That’s a missed opportunity, isn’t it? I could’ve sold a few more. I’ve got my eyeball on the cover, so at least that’s my eye, looking back at everyone else.
You wrote your book by sending emails to your editor. What was that unconventional process like?
My relationship with my editor is much like any romantic one. We were very excited when it started, and there was a lot of communication on both sides, and then mine became less frequent. Having a day job, I sent quite a bit of it at home in the evening or early hours of the morning when I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t know how hard it was weighing on me until I finally completed it and got the book back. I felt much lighter.
The longest section in the book is about heartbreak. You’ve had a couple long-term relationships for most of your twenties. You mentioned how you’ve neglected to work on developing emotionally and taking care of yourself during those times. How do you feel being single?
I never really feel that single. There’s always, like, something going on. I’ve stopped thinking about it to be honest. I’ve decided that I’m going to accept it and tell myself that I’m good. It’s quite fun though, isn’t it? Anything can happen at anytime.
You said it was good that you had a bit of a shit time modelling because it made you sarcastic. There’s definitely a sarcastic feeling throughout your book, even self-deprecating at times. Looking back, are you grateful for your awkward modelling experiences?
I’m proud for what I achieved with what I had. I wasn’t particularly doing amazing high fashion stuff. I was doing teen magazines and TV commercials. It was definitely something I was making money from, but it wasn’t massively fulfilling. It can be a lonely profession traipsing around to castings. There are many brilliant women who do it as well, but I was struggling at 17 to find someone that was on my wavelength. I wanted to find someone who I could bro down with and be like “ugh.” It’s competitive as well, and I’d meet someone like Misty Fox when I was on the casting trail. I met Aggy (Agyness Deyn) and Poppy (Poppy Delevigne). Those are women with really strong personalities who were a bit more dynamic. Now, I find myself endorsing products and modelling again, but it’s a completely different experience for me. I’m very much involved in the art direction or parts of styling. I’m more respected and listened to. I’m involved in choosing the team. There was just a level of respect that was maybe missing before during my modelling days. I’m so grateful that I experienced the other side of it, because you can tell if someone is just kissing your ass. I also remember anyone who was nice to me when I wasn’t on TV yet or had my book.
You’ve had to deal with a lot of criticism for your slim figure. How did that affect you?
It’s just all very childish, and I cannot believe we’re still having these debates over and over again. I understand if people are concerned for my health, but equally, I know I’m fine. It gets to a point where it goes beyond concern into bullying, and it’s turned into a platform for people to vent who are not happy with themselves. I find that every few years it’s a different girl that has to deal with it. I think before me it was Keira Knightley who was having a shit time. Or before her it was Victoria Beckham. I think it’s all come down to women just being happy with themselves and each other. It’s cheesy, but people should appreciate all shapes and sizes and love themselves and each other. Can’t we all just be cool, guys?
You’re really good at interviewing people. Is that a skill you had to learn?
No, I don’t know if I am that good at interviewing. I actually feel awkward before every interview. I’m never going to have a bad date because my job is one terrible blind date. I like feeling uncomfortable, though, and being able to act cool about it. I like finding things out about people and being brave and asking questions that people wouldn’t normally ask. I really do enjoy it.
I bought those Charlotte Olympia cat shoes because I saw you wearing them first. How much do you love shoes?
I’m sorry, those are expensive. Shoes are kind of the one. No matter what mood you’re in you can buy shoes and be like, Oooh shoes! You don’t have to get undressed to try them on. It’s not like a kerfuffle. Right now, I’ve got bare feet up on a desk next to a tub of peanut butter and a Sylvia Plath book. When I put my shoes back on they’ll be ballet shoes from APC. I went to the gym this morning and it was shot. I got to my class at the wrong time, and then when I got to work my co-host was like, Sacrilege! How dare you wear APC to work out in! I guess that’s how you can tell when you’ve lost touch, when you start wearing APC to workout.
Have you ever made a mix for a guy you had a crush on?
No, because anyone I’ve dated knows way more about music than I do. I don’t want to embarrass myself by saying, Hey, do you wanna check out some Tame Impala? And they’ll be like, Shut up idiot! Then I’ll be like, Hey, I like really cool music, have you heard of the Beatles? Boys make me mixes, but I don’t return the favor.
How does it feel being almost thirty?
Everyone is claiming I’m thirty already but my birthday isn’t until November! I’ve got one month left dammit! Why are they wishing it away from me?