Alexa Chung 'gagged' by fashion houses at the start of her career

‘Simply getting dressed was tricky’: Alexa Chung reveals fashion houses controlled what she could wear during early days of her career – and opens up about her ovarian cancer scare

  • British fashion designer Alexa Chung says she was ‘gagged’ at start of her career
  • She was ‘trussed up in contractual obligations and bans’ as a rising fashion star
  • The 37-year-old model also opened up about a terrifying ovarian cancer scare
  • In March 2020, the author revealed she had been suffering from endometriosis but said doctors had to rule out that she didn’t have cancer 

Alexa Chung has claimed she was silenced by certain fashion houses at the start of her career, claiming some days it was ‘tricky’ getting dressed.  

The British designer and model told The Sunday Times that while she was known for her personality after working as a television presenter in the early 2000s, fashion brands wanted her on ‘their terms’.  

Recalling the early days of her career, Alexa said she was ‘so trussed up in contractual obligations and bans’ that she wasn’t allowed to wear certain things. 

The 37-year-old also opened up about her painful battle with endometriosis, recalling an ovarian cancer scare while filming her Netflix series in LA before she was diagnosed with the condition. 

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Alexa Chung, pictured in 2020, claims she was silenced by certain fashion houses at the start of her career, who would ask her not to wear certain rival brands

The 37-year-old also opened up about her painful battle with endometriosis, recalling an ovarian cancer scare while filming her Netflix series in LA

Speaking about how her perceptive eye for fashion originally made a name for her while she was working as a host on shows including Channel 4’s T4, she told the newspaper that she struggled to not feel constricted after contracts with major brands were signed. 

‘The reason they want me is because I’ve got this style that I am recognised for. So they’re borrowing that then gagging me, even though the reason I was known for that was because of what I had to say. Like, “Oh great, we need that – ish. But on our terms”.’ 

Alexa’s varied and successful career has seen her pen her own book, host her own TV shows including Netflix hit Next in Fashion and grace the runways of some of the most influential brands in fashion. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, the fashion guru opened up about her painful battle with endometriosis, which she says left her in so much pain that she sometimes had to take meetings lying down. 

In March last year, Alexa opened up about her condition and suggested the lack of information about the endometriosis could be down to ‘gender healthcare bias’

The condition that causes monthly agony for one in ten women: What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis occurs when cells in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body. 

Each month, these cells react in the same way as those in the womb; building up, breaking down and bleeding. Yet, the blood has no way to escape the body.

Symptoms include pain, heavy periods and fatigue, as well as a higher risk of infertility, and bowel and bladder problems.

Its cause is unknown but may be genetic, related to problems with the immune system or exposure to chemicals.

Treatment focuses on pain relief and improving quality of life, which may include surgery or hormone treatment.

Source: Endometriosis UK

After years of pain, a kidney scan and a suspected hemorrhagic cyst, Alexa was diagnosed with endometriosis while filming her Netflix series Next in Fashion in Los Angeles.

Before discovering she had the condition doctors had to rule out ovarian cancer, and the fashion star recalled going back to film with co-star Tan France after her appointment. 

‘I had to go back on set and Tan asked how my doctor’s appointment went. I was like, “It might be ovarian cancer!”, said Alexa. 

In March last year, Alexa opened up about her condition and suggested the lack of information about the endometriosis could be down to ‘gender healthcare bias’.  

The model took to Instagram to share a photograph of an allontheboard tube poster that featured statistics about the condition.

She penned: ‘Why don’t they know what it is? Why don’t they know how to cure it? Could it be to do with a gender healthcare bias? Also probably doesn’t help that ‘endometriosis’ is the longest and most boring word to read. 

‘Thank you to @allontheboard for raising awareness about this debilitating disease that affects 1 in 10 women and yet on average takes 7 years to diagnose. 

‘Sorry if you have it, thrilled if you don’t and grateful if you’re a supportive partner, friend of family member to someone suffering with this invisible hellmare. 

‘I’m lucky because I felt much better after surgery but I know that’s not the case for everyone and may not be the case forever. Sending love to those in pain and thanks to doctors trying to help.’ 

Women with endometriosis often have very painful periods as well as pelvic pain at other times of the month, and it can also cause a range of other conditions, including infertility, bowel and bladder problems caused by scarring, as well as fatigue and mental health difficulties.

Despite it affecting one woman in ten in the UK, from teenagers through to middle age, treatment options remain limited and diagnosis is difficult – with Alexa having to undergo a laparoscopy. 

There is no cure and the available treatments often have significant side-effects, affecting fertility, for example, because they contain hormones. 

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