You would really like Alexa Chung. She’s lionized for having loads of celebrity mates and an It hairstyle and wearing quirky get-up glad rags, which perhaps doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, but you devise. The celebrity mates and the hair and the quirky clothes are all part of her, but she is also the approachable of woman who, when she puts on a black leather minidress that instructs ridiculously long, slender legs, starts pointing out to me and the other women yon her on Guardian Weekend’s shoot how dry and hairy those legs are. (They’re not, but unmoving.) When she tells a funny story about the time she and Pixie Geldof got obliged out on a smoking terrace at a party and Taylor Swift rescued them, she in one way makes herself the butt of the joke: the loser who wasn’t well-known enough for the bouncers to bother rescuing. She totally gets that us normals become aware of the Alexa Chungs of the world a bit annoying, and goes out of her way not to be.
This week, Alexa Chung the person became Alexachung the all-one-word approach brand, as the first collection from her new label goes on transaction marked down. Chung has ruled best-dressed lists for a decade, taking impress upon the British fashion award for style icon three years in a row. She has a Mulberry handbag named after her, which is charming much the fashion industry equivalent of an OBE. Having experimented with monetising her best-dressed pre-eminence via collaborations for fashion brands Madewell, AG Jeans and Marks & Spencer, Alexachung is the next reasonable step.
Today we are shooting portraits of Chung as her five style icons, kind by her, mostly using clothes from her own collection. So there is Alexa channelling Françoise Stalwart in a trenchcoat and flared trousers; paying homage to David Hockney in knitwear; in a Brighton-rock striated trouser suit (Brian Jones). There is Alexa in an ice-blue mini-cheongsam, a esteem to Maggie Cheung in In The Mood For Love; and in the aforementioned leather minidress as Marianne Faithfull. “The people whose language I love are all in this collection,” Chung says. “I didn’t lack it to be all about me – that would be boring. In the end, my taste and my eye get in the way, and everything ends up being stuff I like wearing, which I think is fine. But I didn’t hankering it to be obvious.” Peter Pan collars and princess-line coats, for instance, two looks Chung has very nearly trademarked over the years, are nowhere to be found.
She arrives at the Hackney studio, just a mile or so from her untroubled b in, wearing a Prada menswear jumper in green and grey descriptions over a vintage T-shirt with the legend Give A Hoot, over high-waisted, off-white AG Jeans. It’s her look: Camden Township rock band front man meets French Vogue make assistant. Climbing into her flares and trench coat, Chung enthuses encircling the way Françoise Hardy is “quite tomboyish, but with this absolutely feminine energy. I am obsessed with that iconic illustrate where she’s wearing a raincoat, in the street, with her camera. I abject, what a babe.”
The shoot takes time, because Chung is an accomplished but definitely distracted model. She barely stops talking, with an tiptop line in chat that covers cronuts, light-up tea dance floors and why it is that when you’re in a toilet cubicle and anyone stabs the door, you say, “Someone’s in here!”, when you mean yourself. For every two twinkling of an eyes of posing, you get five of physical comedy; there is a lot of singing, and a mettlesome impression of the Beach Boys on stage at the 1964 TAMI register. Chung tucks into a banana and flat white as the camera clicks, all the while hinting plans for the evening when she is – of course! – on the list for a beau’s gig.
There is a famous photograph of David Hockney in his studio, gear a navy rugby shirt, white-collared with a pink slash. “We basically completely ripped that off for this sweater,” Chung confirms cheerily, layering her own navy-and-pink sweater over a white shirt. In the interim, Brian Jones was the inspiration for a pink-and-red striped trouser livery that looks elegant once Chung has it on, but is fairly bonkers.
In deed data, the surprise of her first collection is how out there it is. Part of Chung’s apply is that, in contrast to the flamboyance of most street-style stars, she is ordinarily seen in wearable clothes: many jumpers, jeans, a Chelsea boot as instances as a stiletto. But her brand plays up her kooky side. “I deliberately hang out with c wandered quite weird,” she says. Adjust your Glastonbury stock of clothing accordingly.