It's been nearly a year since Alexa Chung first announced that, at long last, she'd be bringing her own fashion brand into the world. And if you recall from our original post, we were elated with the news, for if there's one figure whose style can unite all of Team Fashionista despite our varied tastes, it's Chung. It's been a slow tease over the past 11 months: After the drop of a dressage-themed campaign video (Chung is a classy broad!) and launch of a dedicated Instagram account, Alexachung, the label, is available to shop.
As seen in the accompanying lookbook, Alexachung's debut collection neatly ticks off all of Chung's own style signatures that we've come to love over all these years. There's boyish suiting (most notably, a trouser and pant set covered in inch-thick pink and burgundy stripes), flouncy, feminine dresses and blouses in tight floral patterns and '70s-inspired little-girl knitwear, as well as patent leather frocks with ruffle detailing, color-blocked suede jackets, an assortment of graphic tees and tops to pair with any or all of the above. Then, the accessories: What would a Chung brand be without ankle boots or the occasional quirky piece of jewelry?
We caught up with Chung a few weeks before the official launch of her own line to find out which are her favorite pieces, how much of her own style ended up in the collection and how she feels about her style icon status.
You must have been asked to do a line of your own for a long time. Why is now the right time?
People had brought it up to me before I even thought about doing it, for a few years. An interviewer would say, "When are you doing your line?" and I was like, "That's crazy." Then time went on, and I was like, "Maybe that's not crazy if people are asking," so I really must credit other people asking me as a seed of something.
But after doing about four collaborations, I felt like I'd accrued enough experience to give it a stab, basically. That combined with being 31 when I approached people for investment, I thought I was young enough to have the energy to give it my full attention, but also maybe old enough to bear the responsibility that comes with it. I think if I'd have done it any sooner than that, I might not have been able to give up all of my time to focus on this one endeavor, because I still was embroiled in other scenarios. Timing was the main thing.
How much of your own style is in the design of the line?
I think inevitably quite a lot of it. I've actually come around to the idea that it's not a bad thing that it's imbued with my style, because in the beginning when people were asking me that, I was getting really defensive, being like, "Absolutely none of my style's in it, thank you. I'm a designer." But now I'm over that.
I do have a strong sense of personal style, and I think as is true of everyone, their personal style just reflects their aesthetic world in general. Your apartment, your car you choose to have, your winter coat: everything is an extension of self-expression. And this fashion line, while I was trying to explore different creative realms, it's still inevitably coming from one direction, which is my brain. I can't help but have my personal style leak into it.
I haven't Google imaged my top hits and gone, "Lets re-create that." But definitely, personal taste is all wrapped up in the same thing, so I think it probably has a lot to do with my own wardrobe. I am trying to push it forward slightly.
Which are your favorite patterns and colors in the collection?
My favorite pattern would be one in the summer dress. It's a floral print that we worked from, and also I loved the embroidery in Collection Two. It's a black velvet suit with flowers on it and that's really nice, too.
This is obviously a very full collection. How did you approach designing ready-to-wear and accessories?
I've got an amazing work partner called Edwin, and I don't know if I was choosing not to listen, but I wasn't aware we were doing jewelry from Collection One until he was like, "Today's jewelry day, what're you going to make?" And I was like, "Oh, shit!" Which is why we've gone for severed hands and space rings, because that was all that was in my brain that day.
But shoes are a little different. It's such an interesting process. It was funny to know that you literally can cut things up and Sellotape them together and that's how you make shoes. The production sample would come back and we would take a scalpel to it and cut it up. The silver mules we've got, I literally added paper to the heel to indicate how much more blockage, and cut the backend off of it so it became a mule. It's like sculpture.
The shoes do seem like a more practical approach — they're not six-inch stilettos. How did you decide on those styles?
In terms of the design process, we focus on the clothes first and then work backwards, so knit and ready-to-wear works alongside one another and then shoes are responsive to what's going on in the collection and what will look good with that. But actually, in Collection One, we do have about a 10-inch platform in silver. It's pretty far out. It's like a glam rock shoe, which is good.
What are your favorite pieces from the first collection, and how would you style them?
Well, personally, I wouldn't mix and match it that much to be honest, because it's high summer, so you probably don't need as much layering. But my favorite things? I love our denim dress. It's like a pinafore dress. It's really beautiful. And I know it's a boring item, but I really wanted a white denim miniskirt and couldn't find one anywhere, so that's something I'm very happy with. And I love our sweatshirts; my dad drew the illustration of George Harrison, so that's cool.
The baby blue suit, I would wear a lot. I love the hooded tee dress. I really wanted that, and I hadn't seen it anywhere. I cut off the hood out of weird fabric and safety pinned it to an old tea dress, so I'm very proud of that one.
What do you think was the most fun for you to design?
I think probably the tea dress, because we played around with it a lot. [Designing] the trench coat was a fun day, because we bought a lot of vintage fabrics and old coats and cut them up and changed their proportion — that was back in the day when we had a bit more time. Now I look at those weeks fondly, because it was like, "Oh yeah, we're just messing around, just trying to make something up." Now there's so many other responsibilities — with the website launching and press and sales and videos and visual assets.
There are so many people who like the way you dress and want to dress like you. What does it feel like to have people who look after your style or who are really looking forward to you launching your own line?
It's obviously very flattering to hear that, but I'd say in my daily life, I'm not made aware of that fact so much. I think my friends all have great personal style as well, so I don't ever feel any different to any of them. It's only if anyone stops me on the street, or says something that I'm like, "Oh, that's nice." But it's still a constant thought surprise to hear that. I don't think I walk around imaging that anyone gives a shit, really. But if they do, that's nice.
Click through the lookbook below to browse the debut Alexachung collection: