Monday 23 September 2019

Vogue Williams: 'If Brian and I ever were to work it out...'

Vogue wears: Shirt, Victoria Victoria Beckham; skirt, House of Holland, both BT2. Shoes, River Island. Photo: Kip Carroll.
Vogue wears: Coat; shoes, both River Island. Photo: Kip Carroll
Vogue wears: Dress, Etoile Isabel Marant. Boots, River Island.
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Vogue Williams is in all her glory. Abs showing, minuscule bikini bottoms held together by a tiny string, her mouth wide open in her signature bright smile for the camera.

Sometimes she is on the beach, other times she's jumping on a trampoline - it doesn't matter what she is doing, the headline is always the same: "Vogue Shows Brian What He's Missing".

If you were her heartbroken ex, I'm guessing your laptop screen would, by now, be a weird mixture of drool, tears and double-fudge ice cream.

But - as we all know - Vogue and Brian weren't your typical married couple. And this isn't your typical marriage split.

Vogue wears: Shirt, Victoria Victoria Beckham; skirt, House of Holland, both BT2. Shoes, River Island. Photo: Kip Carroll.
Vogue wears: Shirt, Victoria Victoria Beckham; skirt, House of Holland, both BT2. Shoes, River Island. Photo: Kip Carroll.

"Brian saw it and said to me, 'I took that fucking photo of you'," Vogue screeches in her big, boisterous laugh.

I scroll through the snaps, wondering which one she is referring to, when I come across a photo of the model, in which it appears she isn't wearing any underwear.

My mistake. Her smalls turn out to be very tiny, and nude. Hmmm. I wonder who she trusted enough to take that snap. It never really is a clean break, is it? I offer; we always go back for a sneaky shag.

"Stooooop," she roars. "You cheeky bitch. No. Noooooo. I'm not answering that."

It's been less than six months since they split in July, and, ever since, it seems the Irish public can't get its head around how two people once so in love could be so, well, mature, about parting ways.

Where were the undignified meltdowns and catty side-swipes in the media? Where were the paparazzi shots of Brian out at 2am, sculling pints and nursing a kebab as the tabloids documented his downfall? There wasn't even the obligatory 'lonely and terrified she'll never find a man' story we've become so accustomed to reading, when it comes to the romantic life of every female celebrity from Jennifer Aniston to Taylor Swift.

And then, it suddenly dawned on Brian and Vogue's critics. It's all a publicity stunt. It must be. Surely they can't be that functioning?

"I wouldn't embarrass my family like that," she deadpans when I ask if it's all a stunt. "It would be a very painful thing to try and stir up publicity over. I could think of less painful ways.

Vogue wears: Coat; shoes, both River Island. Photo: Kip Carroll
Vogue wears: Coat; shoes, both River Island. Photo: Kip Carroll

"You see, this is exactly why a lot of my friends are like, 'God, I would hate to have my life so public'. And the thing is, I don't [court the press]," she says. "Look, there are ways to court publicity and ways to avoid it. When I go out for dinner in London, I don't have to go to Nobu [an ultra-chic celebrity hangout] where I know I'll get my picture taken. If I want to go out for dinner and chill with my friends, there are lots of other places to go and do whatever I want. I don't seek out publicity that way, and I certainly don't do it with my relationship. It's a slippery slope. This is the first time I have been in magazines with something that is going on in my life, and it's not nice, but it's part of it."

Just as coming across sexy snaps of your ex on social media is likely to drum up heart palpations, bumping into them at the same event is likely to have a similar effect. But again, this couple do things differently.

Of last month's Specsavers Spectacle Wearer of the Year awards in London, where the couple were pictured publicly together for the first time since the split, she says: "We knew there was going to be a lot of press, and we had spoken to our manager about it beforehand.

"First of all, he had us sitting at different tables, but then I spoke to Brian and said, 'It's going to be really weird if I am sitting at a different table to you at an event. Because we are still friends, and, anyway, why would I want to sit at a different table to you?' I wanted to sit beside him, because we get on with each other."

She's often tempted to get involved in the rumour mill to defend her name. "I see stuff on Facebook because I follow magazines, and I obviously read the comments - which you really should not do - but sometimes I am tempted to write under them, like, 'This is obviously what happened', but then there is no point. You just have to try to ignore it as best you can.

"If Brian and I ever were to work it out, it wouldn't be something I would hide."

Could they work it out?

Brian McFadden and Vogue Williams
Brian McFadden and Vogue Williams

"You never know what is going to happen. Right now, I am moving forward. I am moving out of my house, and that is where I am at now. I wouldn't rule it out totally, but it's not on the cards right now."

It may look as if Vogue is breezing through life without a care in the world but, she says, as with everyone, she has her down days. And she reveals she is one of many people who suffer from an often unspoken demon: anxiety.

"It usually happens first thing when I get up in the morning at around 7am. To be honest with you, that's probably why I go to the gym six days a week, because I wouldn't need to do this to keep in shape. I just think for my head, I get really quite anxious. Exercise sorts it out, and I feel so much better for the day. If I didn't go to the gym for a long time, I would just feel really jittery and I would be really stressed out."

What does it feel like? "Your mind is racing. You are anxious about stupid things that are never going to happen. It is a feeling in your stomach. I don't get it every day; it all depends."

Is it like your mind is on a loop?


Celebrity diner: Vogue Williams was in Nick Munier's restaurant, Avenue. Photo: Anthony Woods.
Celebrity diner: Vogue Williams was in Nick Munier's restaurant, Avenue. Photo: Anthony Woods.

During the relationship breakdown, the couple didn't seek counselling, but one place Vogue did seek refuge was in energy kinesiology.

The sessions apparently offer a non-invasive, holistic approach to health and well-being. Therapists say they discover areas of stress in the body, mind and energy systems. Treatment often involves rubbing or holding reflex points of the body, in tandem with points on the Chinese meridian system - a path along which traditional Chinese-medicine practitioners believe the life-energy known as 'qi' flows.

"I go once every six weeks," says Vogue. "I find that I love the talking part. I find sitting down and chatting to her about everything that has gone on is a really big help, and it is nice to talk like that - to have someone to offload on - and I would recommend it to anyone. I love it.

"I trust her implicitly. I always listen to her advice, and she sort of gets you to see things that you should see anyway, that would be quite obvious. I always feel re-energised when I leave. Put back together, I suppose."

It has helped Vogue to deal with a hectic schedule. As a model, DJ, promotions representative, fashion blogger and TV star, who jets between her homes in Dublin and London, and further afield when filming, she has a work ethic that pushes her towards a 60-hour week.

Of late, Vogue has immersed herself in spanking classes, MMA fighting and BDSM dungeons, for her new TV show, Vogue Williams: Wild Girls.

She hasn't shied away from awkward moments in her quest to entertain us.

But, on the show, it is her face-to-face encounter with a woman on death row - sentenced to death by lethal injection for her part in the murder of another young woman - that has affected Vogue the most.

In 2011, Emilia Carr was found guilty of the murder of Heather Strong. The other person convicted was Strong's husband, Joshua Fulgham, who was sentenced to life.

Fulgham tricked Strong into a mobile home, where Carr placed a garbage bag over Strong's head and Fulgham held it tight, wrapping tape around his wife's neck. Carr tried twice to break Strong's neck. According to Carr, Fulgham then put his hands over Strong's nose and mouth, suffocating her. At the time of the murder, Carr was seven months pregnant with Fulgham's child.

Joshua Fulgham was arrested on suspicion of fraud for using his estranged wife's credit cards after Carr had disappeared.

"It was an incredibly vicious crime," says Vogue, dramatically describing the victim's final moments and causing a group of women at the next table to move to the other side of the coffee shop in the process. She looks at me in a mix of humour and disbelief before continuing on her story again. "Obviously it was terrible for the victim and a horrific crime, but my heart also went out to this woman on death row, because you're there with her in the present and you think about what's going to happen to her."

This is a different Vogue to the tough cookie you read about in the papers, seemingly breezing through her marriage separation.

"I'm a very private person. Of course I get upset, and it's been really tough, but it happens away from [the press]."

Vogue is close to her family. She has a sister, Amber, and brother, Frederick. She also has an older half-sister, Alison, from her dad Freddie's first marriage. And she has a younger brother, Alexander, whose dad is Neil Wilson, Vogue's step-dad; Freddie passed away, aged 68, in 2010.

Born into a well-off family, Vogue realises she was "very lucky" and, growing up, she was treated to little luxuries, such as being able to bring her friends along on family holidays abroad. But when the time came to start earning her crust, she was in for a rude awakening.

"I remember one day my friend Ashley got these really cool Miss Sixty jeans - they were around 160 quid at the time - and I was like, 'Grand, I'll get myself a pair of those', so I went and asked my mother [Sandra] for them and she was like, 'No problem'."

Days later, Vogue found herself behind the counter in the local shop, making sandwiches, baking bread, sweeping floors and cooking hundreds of pastries every morning.

"My mom said I had to get a summer job for [the jeans] because I had just turned 16. And that was that.

"My step-dad is very focused and driven too, and he gave me so much drive and ambition. The way I work, I learned from him. The reason I want to succeed is from watching him do so well, and I have always wanted to do as well as he did."

If you are one of Vogue's 85,000 followers on Instagram - she's one of the most followed women in Ireland - you are likely to find her, from 7am each morning, either posting a photo part-way through a gruelling workout; or with full hair and make-up, in a picturesque location.

She might be at the harbour in Howth, in a park surrounded by autumn leaves, or poolside. The point is, you'll have barely unpeeled last night's mascara from the pillow when Vogue is smiling back at you, looking like she is dressed for Paris Fashion Week.

Her Instagram profile enables her to have a fairytale wardrobe that most girls could only dream of. Think about it: all your favourite high-street stores telling you the world is your oyster, pick and choose at will.

"People would think I spend an awful lot on clothes, but I wouldn't really. The main things I would spend money on are trainers and gym gear. I borrow a lot of clothes from different labels and stores. I can't really wear the same thing out, over and over again. I can with my friends - but not if I am working. I pick my own outfit for every event. Even for photo shoots. It worries me when I haven't been involved in picking the clothes, because I know what I want to wear."

What I really want to know is - who does she wake at that hour of the morning to take the photos for her blog?

"Oh my god," she laughs, "I rope all my friends into taking photos. My aunt Naomi loves taking them - she would go out of her way to do it - and Brian is brilliant at it," she says.

Wait. Go back there for a second. Brian?

"Yeah, he used to do it all the time. He still would. That's why I think it's funny when people post online that I am showing Brian what he is missing and Brian is bloody taking them."

As we speak, the newspapers have just run a story that Vogue was seen in three different outfits in one day in Dublin.

She laughs, "I knew I was going to see a few different people yesterday, so my friend Ashley was doing my make-up in the morning, and I wore an outfit into town for that, and Ashley took a pic for me. Then I left to do a press call. After the press call, I put on a different outfit because I was going to see my friend Andrea, who owns Tropical Popical, and I made her take a picture, and then I changed again because I was at another press event, and I asked someone to do another picture for me.

"Today, I am meeting my friend Kate at lunch, who is a magazine editor. I know she'll be good at photographs, so I am not wasting that opportunity," she laughs.

It's paying off. Every week, her face is on a magazine front-page. And the money she is making has gone towards making one of her long-held dreams come true. "I bought my first apartment six months ago," she says. "I always had it in my mind that, before I turn 30 [she turns 30 in January], I would love to own my own place."

Vogue has always been financially independent. While many saw her as a young up-and-coming model when she first met Brian, he had already made millions from his career, starting off as a singer in Westlife.

But, Vogue says, "We didn't share money. It wasn't for the lack of trying on Brian's part. He was very generous. He couldn't understand why. He would call it 'our' money and I would call it 'my' money.

"The thing is that Brian obviously earned a lot more than I did at the time, and I didn't want to feel like I was scrounging off him. I knew I had my own money. I didn't need any extra to do stuff. He took me out for lovely dinners and that, but I just like having my own money in my own bank account, so I know what is happening with it; so I don't have to worry about anything. I like having it there. I think girls our age are very independent."

I say that not having to divide up their finances must have made the break-up a lot easier. Was that the secret to their amicable parting?

"I don't think it would have been an issue," she says. "I don't think we would fight over something so fickle. Neither of us are money crazy, where we would just be terrified somebody was going to take it. We would have sorted something out. We wouldn't have let it get to that."

So what is the one thing she has learned about marriage? "Oh god. That I am an absolute Monica," she says in reference to the character from American sitcom Friends, known for her cleaning obsession. And on the subject of love, Vogue says: "I definitely loved being in love, and it's a lovely feeling to be in love with someone - it's only happened twice in my life, so I will still keep my heart open to it. Why would anyone close their heart to that?"

She doesn't have any regrets about getting married so young. "I don't think it is a good thing to have regrets, because then you will just wallow. It is better to move forward. But if I could go back, I would do it all over again, because at the time it really felt right. I have had many happy years with Brian. I will never regret marrying him."

I wonder how their friendship will work out if they start dating other people.

"Well, that is one thing," she laughs, "I'm still friends with all my exes, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it."

And suddenly, I have visions of some girl falling head over heels for Brian, until he says, 'Have you met me mate? Me ex?' and a vision of Vogue appears. It will take some woman to take that on.

For her new three-part documentary series, 'Vogue Williams: Wild Girls', Vogue meets women who defy traditional perceptions of the fairer sex. It starts on RTE2 on November 24 at 10pm

Photographed by Kip Carroll

Styled by Liadan Hynes

Hair by Michael Doyle, Peter Mark, St Stephen's Green Shopping Centre, D2, tel: (01) 478-0362, or see

Make-up by Ashley O'Rourke, using Charlotte Tilbury, see

Photographed at the Radisson Blu St Helen's Hotel, Stillorgan Rd, Co Dublin, tel: (01) 218-6000 or see

Enjoy Christmas Eve lunch in Le Panto Restaurant at Radisson Blu St Helen's Hotel. Be part of the festive atmosphere in front of open fires and views of the gardens. Christmas Eve lunch, 1pm-3pm, €59pp

Sunday Indo Life Magazine

Also in this section