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Alexa Chung: The Anti-It Girl

As the model debuts her first tome full of personal photos, she charts the unintentional style that’s put her in the spotlight

For someone who had just seen her first book cover blasted on the big screen in the middle of Times Square, Alexa Chung seems relatively unfazed. “I’m very excited,” she says with ease. “I’m usually quite underwhelmed by things, but this was pretty damn cool.” Ironically, it’s this laidback sense of self that’s earned the British model and TV personality a following on the fashion front and become the subject of her latest project, a book titled It.

There are 192 pages of personal insight into Chung’s inspirations over the years, from her time as a young model to her days hosting music shows on TV in the U.K. It chronicles a surprisingly relatable style evolution: Chung went through a teenage Spice Girls phase and looked to Annie Hall for boys-club dressing. She even gives props to her Grandpa Kwan, calling him a “fashion legend.”

Still, that seemingly effortless tomboy look has turned Chung into a bona fide, albeit publicly branded, it-girl. And though she’s constantly photographed at parties, on street style blogs and front row during fashion week, Chung continues to dispel that whole being-famous-for-nothing thing, one of the main reasons she decided to put a book out there in the first place. It—a title intended to be tongue and cheek—is a mission statement of sorts. “The audacity to say ‘I’m it’ is just ridiculous,” Chung tells DuJour, “and I wanted to the book to be viewed as nothing more than an object, just as I should be viewed as a person with her own individual style that developed organically over time.”

Her individual style has been so closely observed that Chung has won the British Fashion Council’s British Style Award three years in a row, and that feeling of being watched is referenced on the book’s cover. “Everyone wanted me to put my face on it,” Chung notes. “I didn’t want this to be about that; I wanted it all to come from my brain and make it not about promoting a product. The cover symbolizes me being able to look back at everyone for once instead of all the eyes gazed on me.”

The photographs, writing and illustrations are straight up Alexa Chung: quirky, cool and laced with that London-born-and-bred edge that so many trend followers aspire to. And though It covers a lot of style-driven ground, this is anything but an advice book. As Chung points out, “this was never something I was pursuing. It just happened to me because I was being myself and that’s the best and the most important thing anyone can do I think.”

She tacks on the phrase “I think” to the end of most of her sentences because, frankly, she doesn’t claim to be overly knowledgeable about one subject or the other, let alone fashion. In a way, her tome is a refreshing departure from the recent flux of blogger-cum-street-style-star self-help writing.

When asked an upfront personal style question about her favorite unpractical or over-the-top pieces she likes to wear, Chung answers matter-of-factly, “I’m quite often drawn to ugly things because I think you have to have one strange piece to sort of offset everything else. I like to have a weird item on to throw it all off a bit.” As far as It-girls go, she’s definitely offsetting the rest in the best (and, fine—coolest) way possible.

 

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