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Vogue Williams: The ex factor

As Vogue Williams soars to new heights with her fledgling TV career, she tells Niamh Horan that she would not rule out getting back with Brian McFadden, how she copes with crippling anxiety, and about the therapy that put her 'back together' when her marriage broke down

Published 21/11/2015

Vogue Williams
Vogue Williams

Vogue Williams 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 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.

Ever since they separated in July, it seems the public can't seem to 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 sideswipes in the media? And then it suddenly dawned on Brian and Vogue's critics. It's all a publicity stunt. It must be.

"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.

"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?

"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 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. 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 it's for my head, as 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?


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.

"I go once every six weeks. 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. I would recommend it to anyone."

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.

"It was an incredibly vicious crime," says Vogue, dramatically describing the victim's final moments.

"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."

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 stepdad. 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 stepdad 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 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.

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 fairy tale 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."

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.

"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. 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 my age are very independent."

So does she 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."

Vogue Williams: Wild Girls starts on RTE2, November 24, 10pm

Belfast Telegraph

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