Alexa Chung's outfit hissy fit
Daring to be different ... Alexa Chung makes the most of her unique style.
Alexa Chung is on stage in the Shangri-La Hotel surrounded by glamazons Alyssa Sutherland, Sarah Stephens and Heidi Harrington-Johnson - each looking the part, with luscious locks, figure-hugging outfits and skyscraper heels.
The models are Chung's fellow ambassadors for this month's 30 Days of Fashion. But it's Chung who - despite today's choppy 'do, shift dress and flats regularly tops best-dressed lists around the world - the fashion pack is here to see.
Chung was a model as a teenager, but she doesn't walk with a model's confidence, instead rounding her shoulders as if trying to look tomboyish. But as the main attraction, Chung doesn't disappoint, mocking herself as ''a selfish DJ'' who won't play (or wear) anything from the '80s. She is lucky to be here, too, because she's living in New York: ''Hurricane Irene nearly F-bombed'' her trip.
Style ambassadors ... Alyssa Sutherland, Sarah Stephens and Alexa Chung.
After the press conference, Chung and I are whisked into a private room for our interview. Given her unassuming on-camera persona, I'm surprised to find how controlling she is of her image. Minutes ago photographers were snapping hundreds of pictures of her - but on seeing my snapper approach, Chung baulks.
''This is not the right outfit for this, I would have worn something else if I had known there would be a photograph taken … and my make-up artist has gone,'' she tells her publicist, who ushers my photographer out, but not before demanding that those shots be destroyed.
''It-girl'' is a term Chung has learnt to accept: ''When I first started to get called an it-girl, I was a bit confused … to me, in England, it's the daughters of rich patriarchs that were freeloading so I felt a bit uncomfortable because I knew how hard I was working,'' she says.
''But when you look traditionally at the term -it came about in the '60s with the likes of Jean Shrimpton - and if I'm in that category … then obviously I think it's wonderful.''
Throughout our interview Chung sits with knees together and feet splayed, fiddling with anything within reach, swearing liberally. Chung seems the most unlikely fashion icon. And yet she is just that.
Her status was confirmed by no less than the queen of fashion journalism, Vogue's Anna Wintour, who described Chung as ''a phenomenon''. The New York Times has declared her ''the Kate Moss of the new generation''.
Chung is wary of the hype: ''It's very flattering but very strange because I think [Moss] is still obviously the most relevant icon of our time; they are always quick to replace you, aren't they?
''I think it's a bit embarrassing because it makes me look like a crappy little dog next to her.''
Chung admits to being ''awkward'' at school and didn't have a clue what she wanted to do until her gap year. It was then she landed her first TV job as co-host on the music show Popworld. ''I bummed around modelling because I couldn't decide whether to study literature or art,'' she says. ''Then a TV audition came along and it was my favourite TV show.''
Her fondness for music extends to British rock's frontmen; she has had a string of mop-haired, complicated rock star boyfriends from Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner to Lostprophets' Ian Watkins and the Horrors' Faris Badwan. The appeal? ''I think I'm a strong woman and I've got a strong personality but I guess the guys I'm attracted to aren't threatened by that sort of energy, so they happen to be natural frontmen,'' she says.
But nothing Chung does grabs the headlines as much as her boundary-pushing fashion sense. She adds a unique touch to everything she wears. During our interview she wears a nanna-ish Chanel dress with Balenciaga brogues. Indeed, her sense of style is not always understood. When she emerged at Sydney Airport last week wearing denim overalls with plunging neckline over a sheer floral top, one Sydney commentator rounded on her ugly ''jumpsuit''.
Chung's response? ''I had just got off a 24-hour flight, think about the practical terms,'' she says. ''Or maybe some days I'm just f---ing depressed and don't give a shit if it's the right shade of raspberry.''
Media will argue the public are interested in anything a style icon wears, but Chung believes common sense goes missing in the fashion debate at times.
''I think people lose sight of you being a real live human being … but the truth is you f--- up, don't you?
''I'm not dictating to people what to wear, I'm dressing to make myself happy,'' she says. And that's what people seem to love most - Chung is something of a fashion rebel.
''If someone tells me they like something, I'm like 'then it's shit' and weirdly it worked in my favour. In this industry where people tend to follow things, I'll kick against it,'' she says.