We have to apologize to Alexa Chung at the start of our phone interview for how terrible our cold-inflicted voice sounds. “That’s my voice every day,” says the 29-year-old in her signature rasp. “Welcome to my world.”
It’s this kind of quick wit (a mix of sarcasm and self-deprecation) that’s helped the British beauty (originally discovered as a model at age 16) land television hosting gigs —most famously her big U.S. break: MTV’s “It’s On with Alexa Chung.” The music talk show was intended to make Chung a star, but was canceled after just six months.
After trying her hand at the fashion reality show “24 Hour Catwalk,” followed by a gig at MTV UK’s “Gonzo,” Chung is back in the U.S. — and working in music. Only now she’s one of four anchors on “Fuse News,” a new daily show on cable network Fuse devoted to all things music.
So what’s different this time around?
“I don’t think I’ve learned any massive lessons other than one hour of just me is too much me,” says Chung. “So this is better because it’s four anchors. I’m not carrying [a show] on my own.”
Less pressure means Chung is busy “dabbling in everything” — from writing a book (set to hit shelves in September) to, of course, fashion (“that’s very much where my interest lies”). Though she alludes to her own fashion line being in the works — the demand for her Madewell collection crashed the retailer’s site — she’s tight-lipped about the specifics right now. She does, however, reveal her dream project: to resurrect designer Luella Bartley’s line. “I think she’s brilliant. I’d love to work with her, but I don’t know if she does it anymore,” says Chung in an “oh well, it’s whatever” kind of way.
She gushes over the new school of British designers, including Erdem. But whose personal style does the fashion “it” girl admire? She, after all, won Style Icon at the British Fashion Awards three years in a row, had a handbag named after her by Mulberry and is on countless best-dressed lists. “Wednesday Addams,” deadpans Chung. “George Harrison from the ’60s. I don’t look to modern-day people. I love Diane Kruger’s style and I love Kate Moss and all those, but when it comes to getting dressed myself, I delve into film characters.”
Lately, expect her sartorial choices to be more “Devil Wears Prada” than her usual “Oliver Twist.”
“It’s interesting to work out what looks good on [the “Fuse News” set] and in that environment. Everything I wear on [the] set is things I’m wearing in real life. It’s not a costume. Day-to-day now I think [my outfits] are going to be a bit smarter,” says Chung. “I’m going to turn 30 in November, so dressing like a schoolgirl suddenly looks a bit odd.”
But before you worry the fashion darling with the quirky, irreverent shtick has gone all adult, Chung adds: “It’s not like my personality has changed. I’ll still be highly sarcastic.”
To wit: When asked about her perfect cat-eye eyeliner, she responds, “The secret is my eyes are shaped in a half-Asian way.”
Q & A: More with Chung
What’s your guilty music pleasure?
“My guilty pleasures are usually modern music because I really like past stuff, eras gone by, ’60s stuff. So if I like “Diamonds” by Rihanna, that’s more of a guilty pleasure than if I were to admit liking ABBA.”
What styles are you currently into?
“I like dressing like a boy. I like wearing cropped sweaters and high-waisted skirts.”
What eyeliner do you use? It always looks perfect.
“I use Eyeko’s liquid eyeliner. They do this really amazing pen so it’s like drawing on your eyelids with a felt-tip pen. You get control.”
Follow Tina Chadha on Twitter @tinaatmetro