Alexa Chung shows off her new collection in Lismore Castle, Co Waterford
The ‘It Brit’ launches her first collection a mix of provocative slogan t-shirts, granny jumpers and frilly pinafores
Model, muse and writer Alexa Chung has launched her first own label clothing collection using Lismore Castle in Co Waterford as a venue for a promotional film for mytheresa.com with The Street’s Mike Skinner. (Other venues in the promo include the Victoria Sporting Club and the Crane Lane Theatre in Cork.) The pair originally met in 2004 when Chung was a young unknown model and Skinner the front person of one of the UK’s most iconic bands of the 2000s.
Luella Bartley, the designer well known for her trademark British cool (and now working with Calvin Klein) described English style as a mix of “uptight tradition and unabandoned teenage rebellion”.
Chung’s collection, which is available at Brown Thomas in Dublin, is in that same spirit with its mix of provocative slogan t-shirts (“Screw You”), polo tops, overalls, granny jumpers, crochet tops and frilly pinafores.
Couple that with trench coats, floral maxi dresses, vests and blazers and you get the picture. There are some good pieces – a striped mohair vest, two tone cardigans, a red smock and the hand and chain jewellery.
But lavender patent frill mini dresses, corduroy pinafores and red and pink striped cricket blazers? All these items look great on Alexa Chung, but can her teenage fans and others carry off the look with the same insouciant assurance? Time and the tills will tell.
What we do know is that wherever Chung goes the cameras follow. At 33, the model and journalist who has been dubbed the ItBrit has been listed as one of the 500 most influential individuals in the fashion industry by Business of Fashion and named Style Icon at the British Fashion Awards for three years running. She carries a lot on her shoulders as a trend setter and not just the best selling Mulberry bag named and styled after her.
From a middle class background in Hampshire, Chung grew up the eldest of four siblings of a Chinese/English graphic designer Philip Chung and his English wife Gillian. Her rise to fame and fortune began when she was 16 and scouted at Reading Music Festival by the modelling agency Storm.
Plans to further her education at university went on hold as her modelling career flourished and later developed as a co-presenter for Popworld a Channel 4 teen music show followed by the signing of a £100,000 deal with Channel 4 as a regular presenter and later MTV.
Being both beautiful and opinionated, her tomboyish style and quirky, irreverent humour kept her in the public eye along with being endlessly photographed in the front row and at parties with celebrity friends like Pixie Geldof, Agyness Deyn and Daisy Lowe and boyfriends Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys and Albert Hammond from The Strokes. Scrutiny like this has its price.
“If you’re on TV, lots of people like you and lots of people hate you and once you are okay with that, you apply it to everything”, she once said.
Well known for her banter (“I make dinner every few years”, “bags and shoes are like decorating a cake”), in 2013 she released her first book IT offering an insight into her fashion influences and more recently hosted the British Vogue fashion documentary series, The Future of Fashion.
A regular on best dressed lists, she was voted Most Stylish Woman of the Year by American Vogue in 2015 and named Harper Bazaar UK’s Best Dressed of Britain. The iconic British brand Mulberry whose ‘Alexa’ bag was named and styled after her, attracted a waiting list of 9,000 and helped the company achieve record profits.
There is a lot to live up to but the energy and popularity of this willowy Brit shows no sign of waning. Though she has designed best selling collections for Madewell (sister brand of J Crew) and AG Jeans and is a style ambassador for the British Fashion Council, her own label collection debut will test her universal appeal as a style leader.
It’s described as “prim, racy and rock ‘n roll with frivolous party pieces interacting with grown up tailoring and classic silhouettes.” In other words, cool in a very English way.
Priced from €85-€1,315, ALEXACHUNG is exclusively in Brown Thomas, Grafton Street.