By Claire Stern
Apr 14, 2020 @ 9:45 am
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In my late teens and early 20s, there were three things I held dear: friends, grades, and Alexa Chung and Alex Turner’s relationship. An aspiring Anglophile, I was in awe of her effortless, impossibly cool style and his unapologetically catchy tunes, rife with British slang. Like Chung, I’m of mixed Asian heritage (her father is three-quarters Chinese), and in turn was able to envision myself with the ruggedly handsome rocker, strumming his guitar and whispering sweet nothings into my ear from thousands of miles away.

Everything about them was perfect. She, a chic TV host, model, and Mulberry muse, he, a singer-songwriter and Arctic Monkeys frontman with brilliant lyricism and a voice that’s capable of making the most cynical listener swoon. Not only did their names complement each other — Alexa and Alex! — so did their hair color, sartorial choices, and penchant for alternative music (Chung also DJs).

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My obsession was uncontainable. I’d drive around listening to the Arctic Monkeys, theorizing which of Turner’s passionate verses were about Chung, his one true love. I convinced a friend to see them in concert at Webster Hall in New York City when they had zero name recognition this side of the Atlantic. For crying out loud, even my high school boyfriend grew up in London and played in a band. In retrospect, this was not so much a coincidence as my subconscious guiding me to his vaguely UK ties. He was similarly fair-skinned, lanky, and a bit shy, with the requisite mop top. It should be noted that his name is also Alex.

I was hardly the only person this enamored by them. Anyone who sported skinny jeans and Chucks, camped out at Glastonbury, or regarded NME as the Holy Bible in the aughts shipped Alexa and Alex. They were the Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain of indie rock, and their coupling was as romantic as Turner’s tender ballads. Neither has confirmed exactly how and where they met, but the pair was first spotted together around the fall of 2007, after the Arctic Monkeys were named Best Band In The World at the Q Awards, one of Britain's largest music awards shows. Talk about peaking.

Turner’s suaveness went on full display after a love letter he wrote to Chung was found at a bar and circulated on Tumblr. I momentarily questioned whether the missive was leaked on purpose, but who would risk losing such a beautiful piece of poetry? “My mouth hasn’t shut up about you since you kissed it. The idea that you may kiss it again is stuck in my brain, which hasn’t stopped thinking about you since, well, before any kiss,” Turner wrote. R.I.P. my ovaries.

In 2011, when news of their split came after four years together, it didn’t just upset me, it shook me to my core. Was love dead? If Alexa and Alex couldn’t make it work, what shot in hell did I have? I catapulted into an existential crisis so deep, it would take years to emerge unscathed (if I’m being honest, I’m not fully okay). The breakup was reportedly amicable. In a 2013 interview with The Guardian to promote her book, It — in which Turner gets a dedicated chapter — Chung insisted “Al” (Al!) was still her “best friend.” Rumors swirled around a potential reconciliation in 2017 when they were spotted together at a pub near London’s Victoria Park.

Yet life went blithely on. Chung dated other guys (Alexander Skarsgård and Matt Hitt), and Turner dated other girls (Arielle Vandenberg and Louise Verneuil). Chung is reportedly dating musician Orson Fry at the moment.

Not to mention both parties have had a slew of professional successes. In the years since their split, Chung has launched an eponymous fashion label and become the co-host of Netflix’s Next In Fashion alongside Tan France. To his end, Turner has released three albums (two with the Arctic Monkeys and one for his side project, The Last Shadow Puppets) and collaborated with bands like Queens of the Stone Age.

We’ll always have the music, though — specifically the Arctic Monkeys’ 2009 single “Fire and the Thud” that Turner penned for Chung after she landed her own MTV show in New York. He sings, “If it’s true you’re gonna run away / Tell me where, I’ll meet you there.” (He relocated with her before they ultimately called it quits.) Turner told Mojo: “It’s the most honest song on the record, some songs are disguises for one little thing that you want to say, just to tell someone something.” Every once in a while, I’ll listen to it and wonder what might have been.

Breakups That Broke Us is a weekly column about the failed celebrity relationships that convinced us love is dead.