Spotlight on: Alexa Chung

Lots of ‘it’ girls are releasing memoirs these days. Although they tend to err more on the side of book-on-how-to-be-like-me, It-girl memoirs from the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Lena Dunham, Jessica Alba – even from a young Jackie Kennedy-Onassis – have been a publishing success for decades, appealing to young fashion-forward types interested in the zeitgeist.

British model, global fashion trendsetter and noughties ‘it’ girl Alexa Chung has got straight to the point, calling her recent memoir ‘IT’.

What exactly is an ‘it’ girl?. The Oxford Dictionary offers the following definition:

  1. a young woman who has achieved celebrity because of her socialite lifestyle.
IT by Alexa Chung

IT by Alexa Chung

The phrase is believed to have originated as slang in upper class British society around the turn of the 20th century. Rudyard Kipling is said to have been the first writer to use the phrase in his prose. In his 1904 short story, “Mrs. Bathurst,” he wrote: ‘Tisn’t beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It’s just It. Some women’ll stay in a man’s memory once they walk down the street.’

Chung, whose exotic looks come from having a Chinese father and an English mother, takes the mickey much of the time, especially when providing advice for her wide-eyed fashionista audience. Makes you wonder whether this book deserves to be catalogued and placed in humour, rather than fashion.

Take her tips on how to get dressed in the morning:

1. In the shower/bath/over the sink (I don’t know what you like) take your time to imagine your day and how you’d like to look as you are doing all those boring tasks/potentially running into an ex or future partner/nemesis…

2. Is the outfit clean? – Is it though???

3. Put it on, and this is crucial… look in a mirror. 

Chung is down-to-earth. She admits ‘I probably first heard about Gucci via Posh Spice’ and ‘When I was thirteen I spent a lot of time pretending to like dance music because everyone at my school seemed to love it.’

She has no shame in telling the world at she borrowed heavily from the style of stars from the silver screen while trying to figure out her own personal style – FYI she copied Anna Karina, Liv Tyler, Jane Birkin and Edie Sedgwick, amongst others.

She is a creative and there’s lots of her own neat doodles throughout the book. There are many lists for inspiration, including ones of songs to get through a break-up, celebrities with ‘perfect hair’ to emulate and things to take to a music festival. It’s more of a zine than a book and encourages you to have a laugh.

‘IT’ is a book about Chung’s love of fashion, music, art, film and celebrity style. It’s a very popular book across the SA library network. You can put a hold request on it here