All of social media was going a bit nuts this morning over the London Fashion Week debut of Alexa Chung’s new collection. This is her first time showing here, or on any runway for that matter, and that seemed to necessitate a rush on the part of almost every London-based media outlet to do some kind of background piece on the former model-turned-designer prior to the show. Then, in true social media fashion, all her fans had to give their opinions on every article. The volume was a bit much, especially when it started so early this morning.
Personally, I’m a bit skeptical of celebrity designers. Occasionally one like Victoria Beckham, who shows in London for the first time tomorrow, comes through and demonstrates some real insight, but for the most part, they are trend-centric flashes in the fashion pan that do nothing more than distract from more stable and reliable designers. I won’t go so far as to say that Ms. Chung isn’t in that larger group just yet. Her brand is still very young. She is still very young. What ultimately matters is whether she’s good enough to endure over the long haul. However, I will say that she seems to be taking the right steps, walking before she runs so to speak, and keeping her collection grounded in some form of reality.
Granted, reality for Alexa Chung is a little different than reality for the rest of us. She started modeling when she was 14, something that the industry is now trying to avoid. She moved from that to television, back to modeling, and even has a handbag, Mulberry’s Alexa bag, named after her. Even the inspiration for this season’s collection, the coming and going of constant air travel, isn’t something to which the average person can relate. Most people only fly once or twice a year and when we do we’re crammed like sardines in coach, not first class. We don’t get to relax in the exclusive lounges like Ms. Chung does. There’s inherently a disconnect, though her strongest fans are sure if they try hard enough they, too, can be just like Alexa.
Ms. Chung’s collection is largely practical for travel. The first look even includes a bandana for this early morning departures when you don’t have time to do anything to your hair. She’s fond of jumpers and slip dresses and thoughtfully includes jackets and sweaters for those times when the airport is as chilly as the venue was this morning. A couple of swimsuits are snuck into the mix because sooner or later everyone winds up on the beach, right? Fortunately, she provides a cool button-down dress to wear over them. Vinyl trench coats are perfect if one is flying into nasty weather and checked capes for well when cooler climates are the destination.
For a celebrity-backed collection, the looks are surprisingly well grounded and reasonable. Take a look at a few samples.
If there is a downside to Ms. Chung’s collection it comes in fabrics that are not as likely to wear as well in coach as they do in First Class. Expect a lot of wrinkles from the slip dresses and the capes simply take up too much room. Ensembles like the two-piece denim set are probably the better choice for most young women.
Still, for someone who hasn’t been to design school, this is a surprisingly strong collection. While my tendency is to think that she’s been advised well, let’s hold out the possibility that her knowledge of the industry and natural creativity are just that strong. This was a good first outing. Now, we’ll see if she can make the full trip without being distracted.