the it girl issue

An Alexa Chung Superfan Finally Meets Her

Photo: Brian Ach/Getty Images for Prada

In 2012, I had a burner Instagram account that was devoted to Alexa Chung and her whereabouts. I kept a list of items and places: white socks sticking out of shoes that aren’t sneakers, the bars Black Market and St. Dymphna’s, the store Geminola. Alexa Chung was the coolest girl I knew of, who, in some completely illogical way, could have been me. Just in the way that she lived in New York and could actually be seen walking around. No other qualities did we share. At the time, I didn’t even live here. I talked to Alexa, wearing an outfit I’d picked out before we even set the date for the interview.

Annie Hamilton: I’m a longtime fan of yours, and I have never conducted an interview, so we’re just going to see. I’m nervous, I’m smoking.

Alexa Chung: Please, smoke. I’m obsessed with smoking. I just gave it up, and I also have spent my day interviewing women with endometriosis.

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AH: What made you decide to quit smoking?

AC: Last year, I wound down my fashion line. I’d sold my apartment in New York, and I broke up with a boyfriend. I was selling this mid-century couch and didn’t want to take less than $5,000. Six weeks later and I’m basically giving it away. So I took up smoking again because I felt slightly like, What else is there? Then I started wheezing in the morning, and by Paris Fashion Week, I felt I was more cigarette than woman. So I thought, I’ll try a Monday without it, and now here we are.

AH: That’s amazing. I always quit for boys. Anyway, I wanted to ask what age you got into modeling.

AC: I’d been on track to go to university. And then I flipped the table and was like, I’m gonna run off with my 40-year-old boyfriend and model. I was 18. It was kind of a pragmatic decision because I was like, Well, obviously I’m gonna be a hag by 22, so I need to make hay while the sun is shining. I was doing Tampax and Fanta commercials. Years later, I got a job hosting a show on MTV. They created a studio that looked like my Williamsburg apartment, which was mad. I felt a bit isolated in New York.

AH: What’d you think of the term “It” girl?

AC: In my mind, at least in Britain, the term was more closely associated with socialites, like Tamara Beckwith. She’s amazing, but I was proud of the fact that I’d made my way. I remember when people wanted to interview me about being an “It” girl; I’d be like, “No, it’s naff.” I did like some of the other ones, like Kate Moss. And Chloë Sevigny — frankly, I just ripped her outfits.

AH: So now you’re going back to writing.

AC: Well, I decided to wind down the business, which took a year because I didn’t wanna go bankrupt. So then I took a year off after that because it was quite stressful but also I was disappointed to not have my fashion line. And then lately I’ve kind of started working again, but it seems to be in the direction of broadcasting and writing. There are days when I walk around and I feel like actual William Shakespeare and other days where I feel like a dude just saying, “You up?” Also, when I closed my company, I was like, I will never design clothes again. But I kind of want to make denim.

AH: Are we thinking raw denim?

AC: Could be raw denim. It could be.

AH: How long did you spend putting your outfit together this morning?

AC: Oh, this is bad; you caught me at a very low point. This morning, I had to interview those people about their medical journey, so I didn’t wanna look too, like, fashion-y. But then at lunchtime, I had to try and take lots of selfies of myself for a sponsored post.

AH: Did you wear the same thing?

AC: No, no, no. It was a different outfit. And I sort of had a mental breakdown over that. I was like, That’s why there’s no influencers in the U.K. Because the light’s just really bad — the gray skies.

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An Alexa Chung Superfan Finally Meets Her