Following her second London Fashion Week runway outing, Alexa Chung talks feminism, a new standard of "prettiness" and her exciting Sunglass Hut collaboration with Abigail Gurney-Read.

Alexa Chung is fed up of compromise.

"I can’t be arsed any more," she tells me in the wake of her AW19 showcase, Off The Grid. "I’m just not willing to."

Her sophomore runway, Alexa’s "battalion of women" – as she'll later describe them – are opinionated and assured, answering to no-one, other than themselves. And they’re dressing like it. 

"I wanted to build this community, and think: 'How would we get dressed if the male gaze wasn’t a part of it?'" she goes on. "This collection is about not compromising."

For Alexa, the battle cry has translated sartorially into brutalist leather separates, cinched with severe belts that nip at the waistline; impeccably tailored jackets, hardening the edges of fin de siècle silken co-ords and Laura Ingalls Wilder prairie dresses, which could err on saccharine were it not for their grungier accoutrements; piquant mustard flavours daubed sparingly, yet strikingly, throughout that demand attention without fuss or ceremony. Alexa is dressing women for women’s sake – and it shows. 

"It’s not that I’m bored of prettiness," she explains. "It’s that I’m bored of pretending to put on a show, and I don’t want to have to lower my standards and kowtow in order to be more palatable to men."

"I haven’t been able to intellectualise it on a bigger scale," Alexa continues. "While I’ve always been a feminist and aware of the patriarchy, I’ve suddenly become very angry about it... I feel like this collection was some kind of support."

In part, this is also where Chung’s introduction of sunglasses – a first for the designer – came in, via a capsule range with Sunglass Hut.

"I’ve been really wanting to make some sunglasses for a while, so it was perfect in that sense," she tells me of the collaboration, which spans two frame shapes that nod to the 1970s aesthetic that Alexa will reliably do well, time and again. And yet, despite this, their presence remains more than purely cosmetic, as Chung continues: "In this scenario as well, covering your eyes with sunglasses is another way to refute seduction."

Alexa wears her Alexa Chung x Sunglass Hut collaboration.

With this elegantly defiant collection, it’s plain as day that Alexa has 'found her voice' – so to speak – as a designer. More important, though, is that she’s equally seeking to enable her customer to do the same... Right down to their sunglasses!

What's the mantra you tell yourself first thing in the morning? 
Nobody has a mantra – except for people that are being interviewed!

How do you take your coffee? 
I love a flat white: I have one every morning. I’ll go to the same cafe, and become quite attached to the barista that’s working there... And then they leave, and I feel quite adrift.

If you weren't doing what you're doing now, what would you be doing instead? 
Trying to do it

If you could only keep one outfit in your wardrobe, which would it be? Vintage jeans, a navy jumper, and some kind of shoe that looks like you could dance in it.

Who's one person you'd love to have dinner with? 
I’ve had the privilege of having dinner with lots of people that I’ve always thought: "I’d love to have dinner with them!" One time at an event, I was seated next to Patti Smith. I was like: "Hi, Patti Smith! Big fan…" And gave this whole speech about how much I loved her. She just turned to me and said: "I’m deaf in that ear!"

What's the main thing you would like to achieve this year? 
I’ve already kind of achieved it! When I first moved back to London, I couldn’t find a suitable exercise. In New York, I found this thing called Ballet Beautiful, which is a really elegant way to work-out: You wear some cute outfits, have a chat, and do some leg lifts… Your body looks better for it, but you haven’t broken too much of a sweat! When I got back to London, I didn’t know where to go, because I didn’t want to use a treadmill, and I really don’t want to lift weights… Anyway, recently I found Reformer Pilates, and I’m very happy about it.

Who would you want to record your audio autobiography, voice-wise? 
My friend, Jenny Eliscu. She has a radio show in America, and I think she has the most calming voice ever. It’s delightful!

Why did you end up doing what you do?
I don’t like being told what to do, and I just thought that I’d prefer to tell other people what to do instead.

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More 8Qs:

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"Fashion is the most fascinating cultural phenomenon"

+ Natalia Alaverdian: "Meeting strangers is often awkward"

+ Sarah Law: "I wanted to create an open spaces for people to express themselves"