Tuesday evening, my beauty writer PIC Cheryl and I moseyed on down (OK, more like shuffled — those icy sidewalks were freaking treacherous) to Sephora in Meatpacking to fete the launch of Alexa Chung‘s new collaboration with eyeliner aficionado Eyeko. I’ll admit, I was a bit apprehensive going into it: What does one ask a woman who’s made the majority of her living off simply being cool? Whose giant face has graced the walls of more than one of my apartments? Whose personal aesthetic has inspired me on so many shopping trips? The person whom I’d coincidentally shared restaurants with two days in a row last summer, and been worried she might take out some kind of restraining order?
But the anxiety subsided the second we were introduced. First off, 30-year-old Chung is charming and beautiful in person — Photoshop hath no business with this lady. Second, her impossibly husky voice is weirdly mesmerizing, maybe in the way a car fanatic might be entranced by the hum of a 1964 Dodge Charger. And lastly, she complimented my shirt (this one!) and asked me where she could buy it. Ladies and gents, I’ve officially entered the Alexa Chung Twilight Zone. I’ve no plans to ever return.
Read on for Chung’s musings on riding a mechanical bull in front of Anna Wintour, dealing with nasty book critics, designing her own clothing line, and the question you’ve been losing sleep over: Is Alexa Chung growing out her bangs?
Fashionista: You’re obviously a liquid liner pro. Are you at the point where you can do your makeup without looking in the mirror?
Ahh… no, I still need a mirror. Although I haven’t challenged myself to that, maybe I can do it, I don’t know. Hm… I’ll give it a go.
What’s the most extreme condition you’ve ever had to apply makeup, subway or otherwise?
I have a fear of like, poking your eye out if you do it, ’cause I’ve tried to do it in the back of cars before, I’ve been like ‘Oh this doesn’t seem like a good idea…’ No, you know what, if I’ve forgotten or haven’t had time to put makeup on, I’ll just go with it and be like, here’s the deal. I’m not scared of looking gross on a day to day basis. And even when I’m wearing it, I’m really tomboyish in my approach to beauty in the sense that once it’s on, I kind of forget about it.
What’s your trick to having great hair in the winter?
Put a fedora on! And hope for the best.
Let’s talk nail art: Are you sick of it?
A month ago I’d really had it. I said, ‘No nail varnish is the new nail varnish.’ And then I started looking at my sad, sad hands and I thought, it’s kinda nice to look down and… it’s a really good way to cheer yourself up if you’ve got a nice manicure… you’re like, ‘Oooh! I’ve still got it!’ So I quite like it again now.
How about weird nail art designs?
Yeah, I think it’s cool still. My friend Naomi Nails NYC does a lot of really good nail art and I do enjoy her Instagram. I’m like, ‘Ooh burger nails in neon… why not!’ I think it actually is a valid art form that’s kind of pretty cool.
You rode the mechanical bull at the Chanel show in Dallas. Was that the first time you’d done it? Had you had any practice?
No! I’m quite a good horse rider though, so I was confident that I could probably stay on a moving beast. I’m a good rider as it were, but there was a lot more pressure because obviously Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour and various other people were there. But that kind of fear of looking stupid in front of like, amazing people kind of urged me to grip a bit harder. It’s a lot of pressure.
And you didn’t fall off?
No. But they were also going kind of easy, ’cause I think the guys got the memo that there were a bunch of fashion chicks that weigh about one pound and it probably wouldn’t have been good for them to fling us far… But it was fun, really fun.
As far as designing your own line, you’ve said that’s “pretty much all [you] want.”
Yeah, very much.
What’s the progress with that? Is it happening?
Well, so I was at Fuse News for a year and a half and I’m leaving there on Thursday. That’s going to be the first opportunity where I haven’t had a nine-to-five job — so I’ve kind of been doing Eyeko, I wrote a book, I did Fuse every day, and various other design gigs and DJing. So this will be the first time to actually sort of sit down and think about it. So… no. (laughs) I’m going to get it off the ground hopefully in 2014.
Will cats be a theme?
Hmm… I feel like Miu Miu’s done it, Tabitha Simmons has done it, Charlotte Olympia… Maybe it’s time to give cats a rest.
Any other potential theme?
For the first collection? Oh god I don’t even know… See, that’s why I need some time to think about it!
The big question: Are you growing your bangs out or aren’t you?
Oh yeah! No, here it is! (Fans out fringe over forehead). It’s just a trick of the… See, they’re kind of there, it just depends. Yeah… I was thinking of growing them out and getting the bob back, but I don’t know, ’cause… hair’s annoying! If you decide to do anything new, you’re going to look disgusting for three months. So it’s a commitment to knowing that the in between stage isn’t going to be nice for anyone.
Cheryl and I are both dealing with that right now…
So yeah! It’s whether I can be bothered to sort of phone in the hairdo for a little bit for the final payoff, or whether I should stay stationary ’cause it’s working, everything’s fine… I haven’t moaned about my hair for a long time, so I think I must think it’s ok…ish. But then, I had this thing where George, my hairdresser, cut my bangs really short for fashion week, without me noticing, we were in a bathroom chatting and I turned and looked in the mirror and I was like, ‘Oh cool! I look like I’m from Dumb and Dumber, that’s good.’ So then I had to style that out for a bit and be like, yeah I wanted it to be this short, it’s cool. So I don’t know what I want to do. It’s more that I don’t really give a shit right now. I’ve stopped thinking about it as much, I’m quite happy with just letting it do its thing. I feel like it will evolve on its own, of its own volition. It’s got a life of its own.
What trend to you hope stays in 2013?
I’ll tell you what I hope doesn’t bloody stay: High cut leotards!
I can’t with that. It’s like a will it/won’t it situation, I’m on the edge of my seat every time I watch her spread her legs! I’m like ‘Ooh! Ooh!’ It’s too much for my anxiety.
Do you think you’ll write another book?
Yeah. Before I die? Yeah, probably. I’ll give it another bash!
How do you handle hearing negative reviews of your book?
It’s kind of like, if someone you like tells you you’re shit, or someone you don’t like tells you you’re shit — it’s kind of that situation. So if it’s someone I respect, then I’m like, “Ehh…” But if it’s someone I don’t care for, I’m like “Meh!” So yeah, I don’t know, that’s how you have to rationalize things, it’s a very odd situation to be in, to read anything about yourself — can you imagine reading weird stuff about yourself? I mean, you must get comments on things you write, and it’s just weird ’cause you want to be like, no that’s not what I meant, or…
Yeah… Someone insulted my shirt, actually.
Exactly. So people are idiots! ‘Cause that’s a beautiful shirt. But everything’s subjective, so you kind of have to go into it with the spirit of knowing that you can’t please everyone — so you just have to please yourself. And that’s kind of what I’m saying in the book anyway, so I have to stick by that kind of idea and say, ‘I’m happy with it, and I’m happy with how things are so it doesn’t really matter.’
Additional reporting by Cheryl Wischhover