It's On with Alexa Chung

Is this euphoria?
I woke up in the morning with a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was the 4th and I had approximately 9 days left to type out 6,000 words for my dissertation. I was going to meet my adviser with nothing to show. It was not a good way to start the day. I went on Twitter (like I always do, first thing I wake up) and then my breath hitched: Penguin - the publishers of Alexa Chung's new book - had announced a book signing. Today. At 5pm. At Liberty.

I had to go.
First let me contextualise the significance of this seemingly unimportant bit of news: 
I am an Alexa Chung fan. And not in a silly One Direction way, where I only like them for their looks etc. No. I've been a fan of Alexa since I was 17 (going on 18?), a time when I was still (cliche) trying to find myself. I used to be depressed that I never felt comfortable wearing "sexy" clothes like the rest of my peers who were confident in their skimpy spaghetti tops and micro mini skirts when going to class. I pressured myself to dress in a way to conform when all I really loved was the look of a collared shirt tucked into a jumper and a pair of denim shorts. My friends were always dolled up in heels and sundresses when we went out while I would prefer a button up shirt and shorts with flats. I was once even called out for dressing very dowdy, having preferred to wear sweaters over everything (I have a massive sweater collection). When we went shopping, I knew my friends would try to bite their tongue when I picked out something that was considered too "aunty" (example: dungarees, pinafore dresses). But I was stubborn. Sure I put up a front defending my sartorial choices and established myself as a fashion conscious individual among my circle of friends, but deep inside it was eating me. I would look at envy at all those "normal" girls in the local mall dressed in crop tops and shorts, skin tight dresses and platform sandals; I wondered why I couldn't pull that look off. Then one day after skimming through the pages of Teen Vogue as per usual, I discovered Alexa in 2008.

I think it was one of those Teen Vogue "girl to watch" editorials where they would feature multiple pictures of a (usually up and coming) female celeb they deemed to have great style. That month was Alexa Chung. I clearly remember staring at one photo of her dressed in a white t-shirt tucked into a mid length skirt paired with a white blazer and Chelsea boots. Another had her in a black blazer and shorts teamed with a navy polka dot shirt while carrying her namesake Mulberry bag. In the next picture, she was wearing a short but long sleeved dress paired with a pair of FLATS and her Chanel bag slung across her body in an "market aunty" sort of way. I thought to myself, "This girl is amazing! She's covered up but she's still so sexy - how does she do it?!" 

I was hooked. I dropped the magazine (that would later influence my decision to do my MA in magazine publishing) and rushed to the computer. I Googled Alexa Chung. I saved all her pictures and hungrily watched all her old Popworld and Frock Show videos where she was presenter. I bookmarked the MTV blog which documented her daily outfits when she was presenting It's On with Alexa Chung (you can still view it here) and probably referred to British Vogue's Today I'm Wearing online feature (here) with Alexa so many times they were probably wondering why they had such a surge of visits from Malaysia. I think the peak of my "obsession" so to speak was during my internship at a women's mag in 2009. A fellow intern was carrying fake Mulberry Alexa to work and I immediately asked her where she got it from. I remember that hot day when I went to Central Market with Mag and Luke where we ate beef ball noodles and haggled over the price of two (fake) Alexa's with the Nepalese seller. I would secretly save pictures of her at work and print out in colour (a great luxury) hi-res pictures of outfits I deemed the most inspiring. I'd buy magazines with her on the cover and rip out the pages and cover to put them into my special folder. At the height of it, I would go shopping with only one mission: buy everything that Alexa wore. I bought shoes in same style. I bought lots of striped tops. Denim shorts became a staple. At one point I wanted to create my own style blog dedicated to showcase my replicated outfits. But I didn't because I thought (a) thats what Tumblr is for and (b) that seemed a bit creepy.

So to say that Alexa has influenced my style doesn't really cover it. Sure, I may have gone a little cuckoo with the copying but at the end of the day she taught me an important lesson: sexy doesn't have to be so blatant. It's not about the boobs, the butt, the skintight dresses. It's about wearing what you like and feeling comfortable. Look at every picture of Alexa. On any other girl, some of her outfits would be deemed boring or normal. However she wears it with such panache, such joie de vivre, carelessly but artlessly styled. It's all about the balance of ugly/pretty.

So today when I made my way to Liberty (just around the corner from where I work!) I stood in the stairwell and freaked out a little inside. I was going to meet the woman I have idolised at 17, the woman who I was going to name my firstborn daughter after (don't ask), the woman whom I told myself it was imperative that I should meet while living in London. And today...that dream came true:

I managed to choke back my tears. She said "Hello, how are you?" I choked a "Hello" back. Then she said to me: "I really like your outfit." Needless to say there was waterworks. What is that feeling when the person you have looked up to fashion-wise tells you that they "really like" your outfit? It is euphoria. That's what euphoria feels like. I was wearing a white tshirt, denim shorts and Chinese inspired jacket with scalloped flats - all influences from the woman herself. She was chatty. As she signed my book, she commented on how inky her hands were from the Sharpie (her nails were pastel purple; they were cut short). All I could think of was: this woman is so beautiful. She's talking to me. She's writing my name inside her book. Her eyes are so blue. She smells really nice. The lady from Selfridges said I didn't give her my phone/camera to take a picture. I looked at Alexa and said, "I was wondering if it was okay if we could take a selfie instead?" She said yes. She even suggested that we turn around towards the windows so that there wouldn't be any backlight. She apologised if that seemed a little diva-ish (OF COURSE NOT). I leaned in closer to her and took a photo with my iPhone. I took another one and she leaned in closer. After that I asked her for a hug. And then I don't what came over me I said (in a really chokey voice) "You should come to Asia someday. You have a lot of fans." And she replied, "Oh yeah, I've been meaning to sometime in the future." And then I said thanks and hurried out of the room and then I called my mum and started crying like a creepy mad stalker.

I met Alexa Chung. She told me she liked my outfit. She signed my book. We exhanged words. We took selfies. I cried and went home. Today is one of the best days of my life.


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