Alexa Chung may be an it girl and have done it all, but is her new book, It, worthy of all the hype?
Alexa Chung was nearly a King’s girl. After studying English, Art and History at A level she received an offer here to study English, but turned it down to pursue a burgeoning modelling career. This September, Penguin published her highly coveted debut book It, which has divided fashion journalists and readers alike. At her book launch Daisy Lowe gushed: “Her brain is so interesting and mad and she’s so bright… she’s got the most incredible way with words,” adding “she’s also really lovely and just, yeah, one of the most inspiring women of our time I think.”
This is hard to swallow, having read It cover to cover. The experience of reading her book differs very little from that of looking at Tumblr. Aesthetically it is very appealing; printed on thick white paper are grainy Polaroids of dishevelled, pretty girls at various parties, photo-booth strips and abstract ink drawings. However, although it’s supposed to give the impression that she’s just emptied the contents of her bedside drawer onto the pages, the whole thing ends up feeling overwhelmingly contrived. Her supposed ‘How To’ advice feels affected and serves no practical purpose for the reader. She writes pretentiously: “How to rage: Get a balloon and a best friend. Go to a festival in a desert. Be 24.”
Rather than shedding any light on the fashion industry or unpacking her so called ‘It Girl’ status, Alexa teaches us “How to master the art of the self-portrait”, A.K.A the ‘selfie’. Worse, she offers a 1 to 5 “Guide to getting dressed” which includes: “2. Is the outfit clean?” and “4. Put it on, and this is crucial… look in a mirror.” Beneath her tongue-in-cheek irony here is the fact that she is utterly unwilling to part with any genuine sartorial advice. Instead, and to our irritation, she seeks to maintain her image as an enigma to whom it just comes naturally.
There are some good moments, though. For instance, on the predicament of haircuts she writes: “Boys say they don’t mind how you get your hair done. But then they leave you for someone with really great standard girl hair and the next thing you know, you’re alone with a masculine crop crying into your granola.”
However, on remembering the £16.99 that’s been parted with, the reader starts to feel just a little sore with Alexa and her “my life’s so great” Tumblr-esque musings. Ultimately, the overall feeling of the book is that of a stage-managed operation of covert self-promotion, or ‘humble-bragging’ as The Man Repeller wittily coined it.
However, take note girls: in an interview with the Independent she’s reported to have said that she “absolutely plans to go back and do that degree one day”. So, you never know – one day soon you could walk in on Chung taking Polaroid ‘selfies’ in the Waterfront bathroom.