“It was a serendipitous run-in,” says the designer and former T4 presenter, remembering the moment she met the Queer Eye star during London Fashion Week last year.
“I was on my own at the party and Tan was on his own at the party, and then… we were together.”
France, 36, jumps in. “I’m sorry but I need to make one thing very clear: Alexa Chung is never f***ing alone at a party,” laughs the fashion designer, insisting he went to the event specifically to meet her.
He puts on a high-pitched voice to mimic his new co-star. “I arrived alone but I knew everyone there!” Whoever tracked whom down, the meet-cute was clearly meant to be. Just weeks later, Chung, 36, was asked to join France as the co-host of Netflix’s hit new fashion competition series, Next In Fashion, which pits 18 little-known designers against each other to compete for a $250,000 cash prize and a clothing line with Net-a-Porter.
They began shooting in LA less than two months later.
Filming lasted five-and-a-half weeks and the pair became like siblings. “You think I’m like your younger brother,” teases Chung as France lists her on-set habits: stealing his snacks, doing exercises in his dressing room during meetings, correcting him live on air.
“There’s this bit in the series where I correct a word Tan uses and actually I was in the wrong,” she laughs, struggling to remember what the word was. “I think that speaks to how gracious Tan is: he says something, I go, ‘No, that’s not how you say it’, and he just goes, ‘OK’, even though he knows I’m wrong.”
France picks up as Chung trails off. “She reminds me a bit of Jonathan Van Ness,” he says, insisting his Queer Eye co-star is already “super jealous” of his and Chung’s on- and off-screen bond. “I actually think he hates you and I’m not even kidding. He’s my ultimate stalker, so if anybody — especially a female — were to take my time… he’d be very rude.”
Chung admits she would love to star as the sixth member of the “Fab Five” in an episode of Queer Eye, but until then she’s just excited to have her own show on Netflix. “If someone’s like ‘What are you up to at the moment?’ I’m like ‘Oh, just this Netflix show I’m doing…” she says with a comedy hair flick.
The 10-part series dropped on Netflix last week and has rocketed into the top 10 UK shows on the streaming platform. Each episode sees contestants put through themed challenges, such a designing and making lingerie or streetwear. Guest judges include Instagram’s head of fashion Eva Chen and designers Christopher Kane and Tommy Hilfiger.
For Chung and France, the process was educational, the themes providing a chance to learn about the history of different disciplines, and each designer brought their own skills to challenges.
“Those designers are much better than I could have ever been under that pressure and time constraint,” insists France, saying he enjoyed learning how draping is done differently across the world. How would he have fared on the show? “There’s no way in God’s earth I’d have considered doing it.”
The red-carpet episode was particularly intimidating, adds Chung. “I had to attend the Met Gala a couple of weeks later so I started pranging out about my outfit because [the designers] were explaining how important that event was. They were like: ‘This can make or break your career!’”
A highlight was having Kane on the show and she agrees with France that it is a good thing US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour did not come on the show because “she scares the shit out of me — I wouldn’t have been able to do my job.”
Their dream guest if there is a second series? “Mrs Prada,” says Chung, looking to her co-host for endorsement. “We’re in agreeance on that.”
“Oh my God — agreeance!” laughs France. “That’s the word we were looking for.” A new power couple catchphrase is born.
Next In Fashion is available on Netflix now.
Source: Evening Standard UK