The Conversation Between Hillary Kerr and Alexa Chung You Have to See
Give Alexa Chung and our wonderfully witty co-founder Hillary Kerr microphones, and it’s bound to be a good time. In honour of the influencer’s fall collection for AG Jeans the two sat down at the Ron Herman store in West Hollywood to talk shop, and naturally hilarity ensued. From their favourite feminists to the real story behind those sacred monster tees, no topic was off limits.
Check out the complete interview below, plus shop the Alexa Chung for AG collection.
Hillary Kerr: Can you start by telling us about the new styles you introduced in this collection? What do you like them? What do we need?
Alexa Chung: Today I did an interview—I’m not being disparaging about this interview, because it was wonderful—but I did an interview with E! News in the morning, so I got up at 8:30 to do this, and I was trying to talk through the collection and I got to the Selfie Tee and was like, “Look it says feminist!” And she was like, "Who is your favourite feminist?” I couldn’t come up with a good answer.
HK: Gloria Steinem.
AC: Right, Gloria. I said Lena Dunham.
HK: I feel like that’s quite relevant as well.
AC: I wanted to make it relatable. So what’s new—the Sabine! We have a new style called the Sabine, and I really like them because I wanted to compromise between skinny jeans and boyfriend jeans. I wanted them to be as flattering as a lady pair, but as cool as a boy pair, and if any of you have boyfriends and you actually try to wear their actual jeans, it’s a disaster, mainly because you can’t often fit into them, and you're like, “What’s that about? You’re 6’4”, why are my hips larger than yours?" So anyway, the Sabine is kind of a masculine, messed up, lived-in wash and high-rise and I love them, and they come in a distressed wash and a more classic, clean wash.
HK: Can you talk a little about your inspiration points for the collection?
AC: The seed that really set this all off is that last season it was a more of a focus on items I wanted to exist in my own wardrobe and it was a selfish endeavour. And in order to take myself out of my arse and try to figure out things that other people might want to wear, the design process was to create characters and dress the characters. So in my mind, I thought denim is often associated with gang members in the 1950s and 1960s and a lot of dudes hanging out in gangs and wearing it, and I thought that was an amazing jumping-off point to create this imaginary girl gang and come up with silly characters and what they might have on. I’m really happy that we did that, because if I hadn’t done that I wouldn’t have come up with the Loretta jumpsuit or the Verushka sexy suede skirt, things that take me out of my comfort zone in terms of styling, but that I think have been successful.
HK: So who would be in this fictitious girl gang?
AC: Well in my fictitious one they are called Veruschka and Loretta, but in real life, all I want to do is hang out with Rihanna. She is the original bad girl, the good girl gone bad. And if you had her in your gang, you’d feel pretty good. And her latest video that she did, “Bitch Better Have My Money,” I want to be on that yacht.
HK: So it’s yacht life?
AC: Yacht life, yacht rock. My next collection will be yacht rock, chinos, and…
HK: One of the things my office in particular has been quite interested in is the backstory to the Sacred Monster shirt.
AC: I have an unfortunate obsession with lead singers. It’s fine. I’m over it, but for a minute there it was touch and go. I think they are great, because they are this focus point in a room during a gig and they have all this power, and charisma, and attitude, and their poets and they are so attractive and mystifying. Yet, I was reading this book by Richard Hell, and he was talking about how you get elevated as a lead singer where you are seen as sacred and desirable, and people are looking at you as this deity and everything that comes out of your mouth is a golden drop of joy. But that same attention turns you into a monster, because any one human that suffers under the watchful eye of many become neurotic and weird, and I just love that phrase "sacred monster" and thought it would make a great T-shirt.
HK: What about the font?
AC: The font was taken from a road trip I took years and years ago on the West Coast, actually. On one of the freeways, there was an advert for this thing called The Thing. Do you know what that is?
HK: Yes, the movie.
AC: Oh, is it a movie? I didn’t know that. It said The Thing, and I was like, “Weird writing, I like that.”
HK: If you’ve given up lead singers as your sacred monster…
AC: Well, never say never!
HK: What is your current sacred monster, the obsession you have with something that you’re like, “Oh, I probably shouldn’t be interested, but I am this interested because it’s captivating?”
AC: I don’t have any guilty pleasures in life, because I feel as though anything that you are that fascinated by is probably a good thing, right? Not drugs, obviously, that’s terrible. No, there is no one that I find particularly compelling right now that I’m like, “Why can’t I stop looking at this?”
HK: Of all of the pieces, do you have a sense of what is going to be the big hit, the thing that everyone loves the most? And also, were you good about knowing which pieces would be the must-haves the last time around?
AC: No, I’m not very good at that it seems. I know what I can’t stop wearing, and for me this season it was the Loretta jumpsuit. And then I’ve been told it sold out today, which is good, cool, but sad because I want to see more people in it. But yeah, you never know. I know what I like, but other people like other things.
HK: What do you like?
AC: Loretta, Sabine, Sacred Monster, the Palm Reader T-shirt is really nice. Have you seen that? Originally it was called Put Your Heart and Tell Me, but no, it was too long.
HK: Are there words on that shirt?
AC: No, it’s just a drawing of my hand on your tits.
HK: Of all the pieces, which one would you say is the most universally flattering?
AC: From what I’ve seen so far, I’d say the Sabine jeans. They got stretch in them, they are really comfy, but they also suit a lot of body types, because they fit different depending on how long your legs are, how short they are, or like whatever.
HK: We asked the Who What Wear social media followers to submit questions for you, and there was one I found particularly interesting. How many striped shirts is too many striped shirts?
AC: I’m so the wrong person to ask. I have so many. It’s weird. And also, I tried to clear out my wardrobe the other day and was like, “Do I really need that many Breton tops?” And then I went through them one by one and was like, “Yes, I do. That one has slightly skinnier sleeves, that one is a lighter material, that one is more heavy duty, that one is red, that one is green and grey, that one is going to be the man one you can wear with skinny jeans, that one is the tighter one you wear under the…”
HK: Have you read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? You have to hold each item in your hand and decide whether or not it sparks joy. It sounds like you did a version of that.
AC: The annoying psychology behind fashion is that once you’ve got it, it doesn’t spark joy, it’s the hope that it will before you’ve purchased it. Then you get home and it’s just a thing.
HK: So how many striped shirts do you think you actually have?
AC: No, not that many.
HK: Under 20?
AC: Over 20.
HK: Under 50?
AC: Under 50, yeah.
HK: Under 40?
AC: Don’t test me! I think yeah whatever, between 20 and 70.
HK: So one of the things that I read about your process for this collection was that you did a bunch of vintage shopping, particularly in L.A. Do you want to reveal any of your sources?
HK: What was the process like, and was it different this time around compared to last time?
AC: Yeah. I mean last year it was like we just met and we’re dating and getting to know you, and this time the relationship had developed and it was easier in that we knew what our common aesthetic was and how we worked together in the past, so it made vintage shopping trips and things like that easier. And also, having gone on the first trip and being like “Can we have that?” to then being like “Sam, where’s the credit card? We need five of those.”
HK: Last time we spoke, I asked who your dream person would be to wear this collection, and you said Patti Smith. Thinking back again of your girl gang, fictitious or otherwise, who would that be for this collection?
AC: I love Lana Del Rey. It would be nice if she wore like the cord Pixie or something with no shoes at Glastonbury or some festival. I would be very flattered if I saw her wearing something that I designed.