Successful people around the world have their morning routines down to a fine art. So just how does model and fashion designer Alexa Chung start her day? Savoir Flair gets a peek into her morning rituals, from where she seeks inspiration to her trusted beauty routine and go-to breakfast spread.
I imagine that most other women have the stabilizing influence of either children or a more normal job, but I have neither of those, so my routine is erratic, to say the least. But it’s always good to get out of bed, so I try to do that at least once a day [laughs]. I don’t like getting up early, and when I wake up depends on what I’ve got going on. For example, every Tuesday we have a group catchup with my fashion brand team that happens at 10.30 a.m., so I set my alarm for 9.30. But then another day I might have a photoshoot that starts at 9 and is an hour away so I’ll have to be up at 7.30. So, I am capable of waking up early, I just don’t like it. It’s not in my comfort zone.
It’s weird because a lot of my jobs over the years have involved me getting up very early, so I’ve been forced to be a morning person. Especially with television. When we did Next in Fashion our call time was 6 a.m. every day, and mine was even earlier than Tan [France]’s as I had to have makeup and he didn’t, so that was an extra hour!
I’m not groggy in the morning, I’m probably annoyingly energetic from the get-go. But sometimes I’m angriest in the morning, so if I get my phone and check my emails – even though I’ve tried to train myself not to do this –then I’ll send curt and frantic responses to things and I’m less able to pepper it with “please”, “thank you so much”, “if that’s okay” … I’m more like “WHY IS THIS LIKE THIS!?” [Laughs]. So yes, it’s always best if I don’t pick up my phone immediately…
My boyfriend says I’m on my phone all the time, but it’s mainly for work purposes. In terms of leisure, I’ll look at The Guardian or The Cut and I love The New Yorker, which I have an online subscription for. And definitely Instagram. During lockdown, I’ve really gotten into interiors accounts like TAT London and Beata Heuman because there’s so much more focus on the home. I’ve also spent a lot of time recently looking at Zendaya’s stylist Law Roach. There’s also this really funny account called Fake Roberts and she has funny memes and stuff. Her captions are so good. I’m not yet a TikToker, but sometimes I go on there and lurk just to make sure I know what’s going on on the planet.
The first thing I do once I’m up is have a shower. I’m an Aesop gal, and I like all of their shower gels. I have to wash my hair every day because it’s so fine. I know people have different theories on what’s good for fine hair, but for me, it gets greasy too quickly. It’s also very soft and silky as it’s half Asian hair. It’s super shiny, so I don’t use much conditioner as I try to give it as much body as possible. At the moment I’m using George [Northwood’s] new ‘Undone’ shampoo and conditioner and once a week I use a salt scrub from Christophe Robin, which is really good for volume. Dizziak is also really nice, they have a great smoothing and hydrating hair wash, and I love the Oaui detox shampoo.
Once I’m out of the shower I apply my body moisturizer, which is the La Roche-Posay 48-hour hydration one. Sometimes I add an oil, either Bio-Oil or Aesop’s seed one. Face-wise, it should already be clean from the shower. I do my proper cleanse at night rather than in the morning, so ideally that doesn’t have to happen.
I’m actually experimenting with skincare at the moment having spent a few years using whatever comes my way. I’ve got this hyperpigmentation situation going on on my head, so I’m trying to get rid of that. I did some research and just bought the Isntree ‘Hyaluronic Acid Toner’ and the CosRX ‘95 Tone Balancing Essence’, which I’m told is meant to even out skin tone. Then the ‘Rich Moist Soothing Serum’ from Dear, Klairs, which is a really nice vegan brand, and then the industry’s favorite moisturizer – Augustinus Bader‘s ‘The Cream’. It’s so boring, but the reason people love it is because it’s so good!
Then I comb my knotty hair, which is knotty even when it’s short and conditioned, before tucking it behind my ears and hoping for the best. The advantage of fine hair is that it air dries in about 20 seconds! I tend not to use any products, but if I use a salt spray sparingly, that can be good. I’ve got this amazing hairdresser in France – which I know sounds very fancy of me – called Alexandry Costa who does my hair for events in Paris. He’s really, really talented and he said that people with fine hair shouldn’t use products as they weigh the hair down. But, if you want to use something, use sage spray.
Then we’re onto makeup. Code8 has a beauty balm that I put on first. It’s very lightweight compared to a foundation but it still gives some coverage and makes your skin look a bit warmer. Especially at this time of year when I’m really pale. I’ve become sallow and ghostly. I saw a picture of myself in the paper the other day and was like, “Oh my god, this is a disaster”. It looks like I’ve been kept in a dungeon and not let out! [laughs]. I use a shade that’s slightly warmer than my natural shade, just to give me a bit of life.
Sometimes I like concealer, sometimes I don’t. I actually think that eyebags can look quite cool. I’m starting to kick against that whole “Kardashian makeup” look. I get that it’s a reference to 90s supermodel makeup and it can look amazing, but it’s just not true to my personality. I’m a bit more rough around the edges, and I don’t like looking too done up. I weirdly don’t find it as empowering as other people might.
I curl my eyelashes and then use the Code8 rose palette on my eyelids. It’s actually a blusher that gives a nice, fresh pink shimmer. Not so much that it looks like you have an eye infection, but enough that it gives you a youthful, springtime flush. Sometimes I’ll be really experimental, sometimes not. Like I recently found an old glitter bomb meant for the lips, but I put it on my eyelids without mascara for a dewy lid look.
I’m starting to kick against that whole ‘Kardashian makeup’ look…I weirdly don’t find it as empowering as other people might.
I’ll use any mascara that I’ve got knocking around, I’m a bit of a mascara lover. Because makeup artists can’t use the same one on different people, I often inherit quite a few from shoots. I also really like a good supermarket mascara. It can be any brand really.
That’s for a very natural look, but if I want a more defined eye then I’ll use eyeliner. Gone are my cat eyeliner days where it would be super 60s, somewhere between Amy Winehouse and Dusty Springfield. Now I’m more into a subtle one, so I’ll just use it close to the lash line and add a tiny flick. More to enhance the eye than to create a proper “look”.
I made a lipstick for Code8 called ‘Affogato’ which I’m in love with. I also just discovered this Korean lip balm thing from Laneige called ‘Sleeping Lip Mask’, which is next level. You’re meant to use it at night, but I use it in the day mixed with ‘Affogato’ for a really nice natural lip.
My brows are quite thick, but the bits closest to my nose are sparser, so I’ve been filling them in with the Code8 ‘Arch Realist Pencil’. I use medium or even light, even though my brows are almost black, as I don’t want them to look too dark and drawn in. If I have a brow gel, I’ll use that over the top. If not, the trick is to put hairspray on an old mascara brush.
When it comes to fragrance, I love Frédéric Malle’s ‘Rose & Cuir’, and I just got Byredo’s ‘Mixed Emotions’. Mainly because I love the name of it, I haven’t smelt it yet. I often wonder why you can’t get a perfume that’s the same smell as a candle, like the Astier de Villatte ‘Opéra’ one which smells so nice. I want that as a perfume!
I usually wake up really hungry, and I eat a surprising amount of food for somebody who’s quite scrawny. If I’m with my boyfriend, we really go for it. It’s like a full meal, a proper brunch. That’s the New Yorker in me! It’s scrambled eggs with wilted spinach and garlic, toast, hummus, a delicious beetroot and apple juice. Sometimes I’ll eat bacon even though I’m mostly vegetarian. But if I’m zooming out the door it’s more of a half an avocado and an apple in the bag situation. Or, at the De Beauvoir Deli down the road from me, they make a really amazing smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel.
I’m obsessed with coffee. My boyfriend lives in West London, so if I’m there I go to a really nice coffee shop called Lift which is great. I go there so frequently now that as I approach the window they start working on my flat white – always a flat white with half a sugar – which makes me really happy. If I’m East, I go to Lizzie’s on The Green, which is a really nice coffee shop run by my oldest school friend out of a small shack in the park.
I have a ban on daytime TV. I find it too depressing. Something about the tone of it really bums me out. I often listen to BBC Radio 6 Music or a podcast. I just listened to one about the Chippendales called Welcome to Your Fantasy, which I highly recommend. It’s like a murder mystery but quite funny, and it looks at the culture of America in the 80s. Before that, I listened to one about the Iraq war, which was pretty fascinating. So yeah, anything informative or interesting, I’m into!
I also talk to my bonsai tree. More because I’m such a novice bonsai owner and I’m too lazy to look up how to nurture it into flourishing, but at the same time I care for it deeply. So I just encourage it every morning.
I have to follow my diary quite closely. I’m very lucky and I have an assistant who arranges my day so that it makes sense and is in bitesize pieces. It would be so hard to operate without someone who’s a bit more logical than myself when it comes to organizing things. I’m quite loose and free.
I have been working out a lot more. When they said restrictions would be lifted in June I was like “Oh sh*t, I need to do some squats over here!” [laughs]. I downloaded The Sculpt Society app. I’ve never been a gym app gal or even a gym bunny by any stretch, but I really enjoy it. They’re very quick classes and very varied. You never get bored and it’s pretty simple to follow. I usually do that more towards the end of the day though.
What I wear is pretty spontaneous, but also very much mood-related. During lockdown, I’ve found great comfort in getting dressed as it’s helped me feel normal and sane and not like I’m slipping into an isolated depression.
I often think about clothes when I’m in the shower. I think, “How am I feeling today? What have I got going on? What do I want to feel like in the clothes I’m going to wear?”. Sometimes it will be based around something I’m excited about. I might have watched a film and want to look like Cybill Shepherd in The Last Picture Show, or I might have just bought some new Clarks ‘Wallabees’ and can’t wait to wear them with some vintage Levi’s. Or I might be like “Ohh that Dua Lipa video really got me in the mood for disco”, so I’ll wear my Alexa Chung patent mini with some black tights and Valentino shoes.
I’m looking forward to having a house where I can have a machine like in Clueless where my clothes are arranged on a beautiful rail and I press a button and all my cardigans whizz by, and that’s how I choose my outfit. That’s the dream!
I get inspired by what I’m curious about, and that usually comes from a desire to learn more about something and also to not discount anything as inspiration. For example, I could get an idea from reading The Metro on the tube as much as I could from reading about the courts and palaces of Henry VIII from a random picture book, you know? It can really come from anything.
I get inspired by what I’m curious about, and that usually comes from a desire to learn more about something and also to not discount anything as inspiration.
It’s been great to be able to watch a lot of old classic movies, and a lot of that styling from the 70s and early 80s has been interesting me quite a lot recently.
It can even be something from Instagram. I think a lot of great style can come from people on the street and how they style things naturally. It’s always the juxtaposition of unexpected stuff that’s interesting. Like yesterday, for example, I walked past a dry cleaner in West London and there was a woman in there sewing up someone’s corduroy trousers, and I thought “Wow, that’s very west [laughs].” Maybe that will turn into something, who knows…