25 in 2009: Alexa Chung

Born: 11/05/83 In: Winchester Hampshire, U.K. Is: Television host

Alexa Chung is the disarmingly cool host of It's On with Alexa Chung, the daily, live successor to MTV's flagship series TRL, which ended its ten-year run of hormonal mania and product placement last November. A model, journalist and television presenter from London, where she is well-known for shows like Popworld and Frock Me with Henry Holland, Chung is smart in a way that brings to mind former MTV personalities like Kurt Loder and Tabitha Soren, whose uncloseted braininess was front and center during the network's pre-Room Raiders heyday.

At a show taping at MTV's Times Square studio which features Adrian Grenier, Ashley Greene from Twilight, and Kid Cudi, Chung chooses to wear a Meat Is Murder (as in the Smiths) album cover T-shirt, a reference that seems relatively arcane for the Twitter-y in-studio audience. "People always assume that the audience is dumb when they're not," Chung says sweetly and matter-of-factly. "I think the idea of youth TV got shifted and everyone probably assumes that young kids only want to watch shit reality shows when that's not really the case. I think the audience is intelligent and there is definitely the desire to watch something that is a bit indie or irreverent or sarcastic." Her charming, unproduced demeanor, wry asides and inclination to undermine the format make for an almost retro product (even as she's introducing viewer photos of their "Worst Hairdos," submitted on Facebook). "I'm certainly not dumbing myself down for the show," she says. "I guess it's just about making sure that you're not being too much of a smartass about things."

Chung is still acclimating to her new life in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where a car arrives at 7 a.m. each morning to deliver her back to Times Square. Chung relocated to New York for the MTV project, along with her boyfriend, Arctic Monkeys front man Alex Turner, leaving behind a full-on celebration of Alexa and her youthful accomplishments (magazine covers, constantly), thoroughly British style, gorgeous looks (Chinese father, English mother) and active nightlifing. "I guess in England I'm famous for my social life, as well. I kind of kick around with a crowd that's a bit of a brat-pack situation," she says with a frankness that dismisses the notion that there should be anything precious about fame in the first place. "We all met each other organically, like I met Henry [Holland] when I was nineteen, when I was a model and he was working as an intern at a magazine. And I knew Aggy [Deyn] from when I was the same age and we would see each other on castings. And Pixie [Geldolf] I met when she was fifteen. And all the bands we hang out with, it's just sort of... yeah, it is what it is." And of course it would be disingenuous and off-brand to pretend that notoriety can't be fun. "It means you get sent free things. It's quite nice," Chung says with a laugh.

Chung not only enjoys poly-hyphenate mobility, but the unanimous approval of pop and fashion; in fact, she is very excited about her new contributing editor role at British Vogue. "I'm obsessed with clothes, but I'm more obsessed with aesthetics in general," she says. "I love graphic design and art and photography, and so clothes are just an extension of appreciating an aesthetic." Chung can invoke Vivienne Westwood's manifesto; enjoys publicly re-wearing clothes to debunk the myth and necessity of the limitless celebrity wardrobe; participates in ethically-minded projects like the Fair Trade Federation; and criticizes consumerism in a way that's neither self-conscious nor sensational. "I'm into celebrating fashion, but I'm not into celebrating greed. I don't buy into that whole magazine shtick of the new must-have thing. They're doing the advertisers justice, they don't mean it."
Mark Jacobs

Wears: a dress and belt by Jason Wu, headband by Michael Bastian and shoes by Chanel

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