'I've never met Kerry Katona and I would never slag her off', says Vogue Williams
Vogue Williams tells Andrea Smith about being a stepmum to two girls and fighting for marriage equality
“What I like about Brian is he's really happy with his lot in life - well, he would love another Ferrari, but apart from that . . . He's just a very positive person and I don't know how he listens to me because sometimes I can be a whingey bitch. He's kind, generous and would do a favour for anyone, like picking my friends up from the airport. The worst thing about him is that he's lazy!"
I'm having tea in Cafe Java with beautiful DJ, model and TV star Vogue Williams (28), and we're discussing her husband, singer Brian McFadden, whom she first met in 2011. Vogue is great fun, disarmingly frank and well able to laugh at herself. She readily admits she wasn't a fan of Westlife’s music and had preconceptions about Brian before she met him.
"I liked bands like Oasis and The Prodigy," she says. "We met in Lillie's Bordello, and Brian is really tall, which I liked, and we just laughed non-stop. We are still like that, and if I can laugh every day for the rest of my life I'll be happy. He never bitches about people, which makes me feel like a super-bitch, but he is quite pass-remarkable, like me."
The colourful pair were married in Castello di Vincigliata in Florence in 2012, and Vogue became step-mum to Brian's daughters, Molly (13) and Lilly-Sue (11), from his previous marriage to former Atomic Kitten singer, Kerry Katona.
Vogue has a great relationship with the girls who simply call her Vogue, and they love wearing her jewellery and clothes. They're delightful children, she says, and are really well-behaved and great fun.
"Molly is nearly the same height as me now," says Vogue. "I just can't believe that Brian has a teenage daughter - it's like he has lived two lifetimes."
While they now live in London, Vogue and Brian lived in Australia initially, as Brian had carved out a very successful career there in radio and TV. Apart from a guest judge role on Australian Idol, he was a judge for three seasons on Australia's Got Talent alongside Dannii Minogue.
While Brian and Vogue see the girls regularly and have just returned from a trip to Disney World in Orlando, it was much harder when they were living in Australia. It must have been very upsetting when Kerry slagged Brian off in the media for living so far away from the children, because it meant he was painted, unfairly, as someone who had practically abandoned his children to pursue a career on the other side of the world.
"We would go home every six months to see the kids, but then we would have them for six weeks," says Vogue. "We see them a lot more now, which is great. Obviously, we all know where Brian's reputation came from, but sometimes it's easier to stay silent on things rather than starting a war. Brian just took it on the chin, because he would never want his children to read about him, or me, slagging off their mum.
"I don't even know Kerry and have never met her and I would never slag her off. Thankfully, all of that is in the past now, and Brian is happy in his life and Kerry is happy in hers, so it's at a good stage."
There was a time where Brian's reputation took a bit of a battering, and he told Vogue he didn't know if he would ever come back to live in Ireland or England.
"Now that he's back and people have seen him on TV, they have seen the real Brian," she says. "He makes people feel really comfortable, and you could put him in a room with anyone and they would get on great, and that's probably why he has done so well on TV."
For Vogue, life has been a series of fresh starts, which can be challenging. When she moved to Australia it took her months to get work, but then she got small gigs that led to her appearing on Dancing With The Stars. Then, just as she was getting places there, she and Brian moved to London.
"I would love to break England properly," she says. "It's great doing shows with Brian, but I want to do some on my own and ITV have been great. I think I've done well to stay away from just being known as Brian's wife, and now that I'm older I'm so much more focused than I was even five years ago.”
"It's about luck too, as there are billions of talented people out there, so I'm lucky that Brian is so well-known because it gets me meetings with people."
Vogue grew up in Sutton, and her parents - Sandra and the late Freddie - divorced when she was seven. She has an older sister Alison from her dad's first marriage, an older sister Amber and brother Frederick from her parents' marriage and a younger brother Alexander, who was born to her mum and stepdad Neil.
She wanted to study architecture after school in Santa Sabina, but didn't do as well as she had hoped in her Leaving Cert.
"I was such a messer," she admits. "I would go to my room and pretend to study, but I'd really just take a nap. I was suspended twice as I was such a brat, but the nuns loved me so I got away with it for as long as I could. My auntie was actually my year head and she said I was one of the worst students she has ever met."
Encouraged by her stepdad, Vogue went to Aberdeen for three years to do a degree in construction design and management, and then came back to Ireland and got a degree in quantity surveying.
She started in the building industry but it collapsed due to the recession, which is when she began modelling.
"I worked on a building site for six months and I really liked it," she says. "People don't expect that, but I'm not ultra-glam unless I go out. I'm never in heels, I'm usually in jeans and a hoody. Brian's fashion sense is a lot better now, because, God, the state of him when I first met him. It has taken four years, but that whole wardrobe is gone now. I used to pick his outfits out for him, but now there's nothing that manky to choose from so he can't really get it wrong."
Vogue became known for her part in the somewhat maligned RTE show Fade Street, and while people try to slag her about it she loved it and doesn't get embarrassed about it. She and Brian came second in the ITV dancing show, Stepping Out, and he is currently hosting the new 30-part ITV series, Who's Doing The Dishes?
As a model and DJ, Vogue is also a brand ambassador for Skoda cars. She took part in the Skoda Cycle Series over the summer, which was a good fit as she loves cycling.
"I drive the Yeti and I love it,” she says. “I did a press call recently with Skoda's charity partner, Dogs Trust, and I had four puppies with me who were so cute. Brian and I have a little dog called Winston and I love him. He flies over and back with me between London and here."
As part of her work in Ireland, Vogue did a TV show, Vogue does Home and Away, with RTE Two, and is currently filming Vogue Does the Afterlife, which will air on the network around Halloween.
Part of her interest in doing the show was to see if she could contact her late dad, who died in November 2010. He went in for an operation to remove an aneurysm from his stomach, and while his family were told that there was a 60pc chance that he wouldn't make it, he initially survived the surgery.
"I noticed that something wasn't right with him and it turned out that he'd had a stroke," says Vogue. "Then he went into a coma and passed away. He was only 68, but he lived life to the full and no one has forgotten him. I still feel like he's around me.”
"Lots of weird things have happened with the show, specifically when it comes to my dad, and I have done so many crazy, scary things that I've had to sleep with the light on at times. I really do believe in some form of afterlife, because it's too depressing to think that you just die and it's over."
Vogue, who is tall and slender, says she wouldn't put on weight easily, but she watches what she eats and enjoys going to the gym five times a week.
"I've never seen models starving themselves here," she says."When I was younger I was told to lose some weight because I was a little bit chubbier, but I didn't dream of modelling in Milan or anywhere like that because I don't find toilet paper too tasty."
Vogue is close to her sister, Amber, and has recently publicly campaigned for marriage equality. "She's my sister and I hate that she may not be able to get married," she says, as Amber is gay and in a serious relationship.
"It's not just about Amber, though, it will be a really good step for Ireland if the referendum passes. Irish people are really open-minded, so I think it will pass if everyone makes it their business to actually actually go and vote."
Vogue Williams is a Skoda Yeti driver