Wearing the obligatory oversized shades, Nicola Roberts breezes into our shoot
a super-starry hour and a half late.Muttering something about a delayed
doctor’s appointment, she air-kisses her way round the Hollywood-esque
entourage who have been waiting patiently for her arrival.
In the past, she was always very much the fifth member of Girls Aloud – the
baby of the group, the reluctant star, often painted as the shy, slightly
sulky redhead. But today Nicola is a confident, tough-talking sex kitten and
fast becoming a style icon.
The low self-esteem that once tormented her has been banished and a gutsy
young woman is starting to emerge.
“I was so insecure, but you’ve got to accept who you are,” she says.
And it’s clear she has. Gone is the fake tan Nicola once slathered herself in
to compete with her bandmates. Gone too are the golden highlights she used
to disguise the red hair that made her the butt of so many cruel taunts.
It’s taken time, but she has finally embraced her looks. And so have others.
Now, Nicola, 24, is regularly spotted in prime position on the coveted front
row at top fashion shows, has designers queuing up to dress her and, after
18 months of hard work, has just fully launched her own brand of make-up -
Dainty Doll – designed especially for girls with pale skin.
So she has every right to feel confident. Today, as she slips into a series of
corsets and figure-hugging dresses for our ’40s-inspired shoot, she seems
perfectly at ease flying solo minus the support of Cheryl Cole, 27,
Kimberley Walsh, 28, Sarah Harding, 28, and Nadine Coyle, 25.
“It’s been brilliant to have a break from the band,” she says. “I’m
so proud of what everyone has achieved and it’s nice for us to see each
other succeeding on our own.”
It’s early evening by the time Nicola finally curls up on the studio sofa for
Three and a half hours in hair and make-up (what were they doing in there?)
and then another 45 minutes for touch-ups between each shot have eaten up
much of the day.
It’s been worth the wait though – with Nicola transformed from girl-band
member to gorgeous screen siren. And if she’s tired now, she doesn’t show
it, staying late and chatting happily about her family, boyfriend and
It’s only when the conversation turns to Girls Aloud and the recent
speculation that LA-based Nadine is set to be booted out of the band, that
the atmosphere turns chilly.
Constantly denying rumours of fall-outs and break-ups might be tiresome for
the girls, who haven’t recorded together for two years, but the gossip
refuses to go away.
And these latest whispers are said to have left Nadine feeling “really
hurt” although according to Nicola, she won’t be getting her P45 any
“That’s crazy,” she says with more than a little exasperation. “Look,
we had a press conference two days after we got in the band on Popstars: The
Rivals in 2002 and one of the questions back then was whether Nadine was
“For some reason these rumours have been around the whole time. It’s
boring and I choose not to take it on board any more.”
When asked where the stories are coming from, Nicola simply shrugs. There’s a
shake of the head when pressed over whether there is even talk of Nadine’s
Yet Nicola admits she can’t remember the last time she spoke to her bandmate,
who has reportedly just split up with her boyfriend of two years, US
footballer Jason Bell, 32.
She says matter-of-factly: “I don’t know if any of the girls have spoken
to her recently or not. I know I haven’t spoken to her for a while. We don’t
have a really close relationship but when we do meet up everything’s fine.
“I’m closest to Cheryl and Kimberley and have been all the way through.
We just clicked.”
Have they drifted apart from Nadine?
“I think drifting apart is quite a negative term. There are always going
to be people you work with who you’re closer to than others. That’s natural.
She lives in LA and it’s fine.
“We’re never in the same place at the same time anyway. Obviously four of
us are based in the same country so it’s easier for us to meet up.”
And when the band does get back together (she says nothing is “pencilled
in”, not even for 2011), will they still be a five-piece?
So just to clarify for the rumour-mongers, on a scale of one to 10, how would
she rate the chances of Nadine being back in the band? Nicola sniffs.
“That’s a stupid question and I’m not answering it.”
It has been an eventful 12 months for the band, even by Girls Aloud’s
standards. Kimberley has fronted a campaign for New Look and broken into TV
presenting this summer. Sarah is now running a nightclub with plans to open
a second. And, of course, after the elation of Cheryl’s solo success – a
number one single and album – came the heartache of her split with Ashley
and later the deadly malaria that forced her to take time off The X Factor
midway through the auditions.
Nicola refuses to talk about Cheryl. Her guard is instantly up at the mention
of her name.
“All I want to say is that she’s good,” she says carefully.
Nor does she want to comment on whether Cheryl and dancer Derek Hough are a
“These people are my friends and I don’t feel comfortable seeing stuff
I’ve said about them in print,” she says.
Nicola is far more relaxed, however, when it comes to talking about her
two-year relationship with businessman Charlie Fennell, 24, who customises
jet-skis. The couple, who were introduced by Sarah Harding, share a luxury
apartment in Surrey.
“Is he The One? Yeah, he is,” she beams. “He’s just lovely and
so special. Nothing’s too much trouble, he’s really caring. And it helps
that he’s gorgeous!
“He’s easy going and very mature. He has a very strong work ethic. And he
just sees my job as work.”
While she says she wants to “spend the rest of my life with Charlie”,
she’s not quite ready for a trip down the aisle.
“I’m really struggling with the getting older thing. I’m 25 this year and
it’s freaking me out.”
With her porcelain skin and tiny frame, Nicola looks so delicate that a gust
of wind might carry her away. All the girls have been subjected to scrutiny
over their shapes, but Nicola insists she’s naturally thin.
“I don’t work out,” she says. “And I’ve never dieted! Can you
imagine if I did? I actually have to be very conscious to make sure I eat.
If I’m remotely run-down, tired or worried then I can drop weight overnight.
I eat loads and have big portions but my mum’s side of the family is thin.
“I’m hyperglycemic so I have to eat a lot and often otherwise my blood
sugar levels drop. And I have a lot of allergies – wheat and dairy make my
skin break out.
“I know my arms can look skinny. I’d rather have them fuller and more
womanly. But I like my legs, though. And my hair!”
These days Nicola’s proud to be flying the flag for redheads, along with the
likes of Doctor Who assistant Karen Gillan and singer Florence Welch.
I love my red hair now ]]>
“The more redheads the better!” she says. “It’s important for
every young girl to have someone she can relate to. Oh my God, I’m all for
The eldest of four children, Nicola grew up in Runcorn, Cheshire and regularly
travels home to see mum Debbie, dad Paul and her younger siblings.
Sister Frankie, 21, is hoping to embark on a music career herself, while
13-year-old Harrison is at the Liverpool FC academy. At 10, Clayton is the
baby of the family and is spoiled rotten.
“He’s ruined. We smother him because he’s the youngest. Frankie has
turned into the most gorgeous girl. She’s moving to London and I’ll help her
as much as I can but she has to learn for herself.”
Nicola, who has amassed an estimated £5million fortune, confesses that she
struggles to comprehend how much she’s achieved since she joined the band at
the tender age of 17.
“I’ve been very lucky and sometimes it’s hard to get my head round
everything that’s happened. It’s too weird.
“I’m launching my own make-up range in Harrods! How did that happen to
the tomboy girl who used to climb trees?”
Nicola’s eagerly anticipated cosmetics range came about on the back of the
2008 ITV2 series The Passions Of Girls Aloud, which saw her create a batch
of Dainty Doll make-up.
It caused such a stir when it hit Asos.com, she decided to do it bigger and
better, using the break from the band to throw herself into the project. If
she wasn’t happy with something, it was back to the lab to try again. The
result is a range of foundations and concealers for fairer skin as well as
eyeliners and shadows that everyone can wear.
“I wasn’t prepared for the amount of work and mental stress,” Nicola
says. “But I was always really ambitious for the brand and I was so
aware that there weren’t many different tones out there for women with
really pale skin.”
Nevertheless, music remains Nicola’s first love.
“That’s what will always be my main passion.”
So surely all the more reason to round up the Girls Aloud gang and get back
into the studio?
“I don’t know. I can’t wait to get back together and make another record
and have the chaos in the dressing room. But I can’t speak for everyone.
Nobody knows what’s round the corner.”
We always steal each other’s lipgloss if that counts.
Pulled a sickie for work?
I was really bad for that in the beginning. I used to get Kimberley to tell
the label I was sick and then I’d go back up to Liverpool and see my
Turned up for work still drunk from the night before?
Erm yes. It was in the early days when I was only 17 and we played Party in
the Park. I see the footage now and can see I look terrible. I’d never do it
Used fame to get something for free?
We get sent things to the office without asking for them. I always send thank
you cards to everyone.
Said: ‘Don’t you know who I am?’
No! Surely no one does? I’ve never heard anyone do it.
Dainty Doll by Nicola Roberts is available in Harrods now and at
Asos.com from the end of September. Further stockists to be announced.
NICOLA WEARS: NUDE AND PINK BRA, BLACK
AND NUDE BRA, BOTH DAMARIS; SKIRT, STYLIST’S OWN; STILLETOS, CHRISTIAN
NICOLA WEARS: DRESS, ASHLEY ISHAM
NICOLA WEARS: BODICE STYLIST’S OWN;
NICOLA WEARS: DRESS, ORION
PHOTOGRAPHY: ELISABETH HOFF, REX,
BIGPICTURESPHOTO.COM, WENN STYLING: FRANK STRACHAN AT WIB AGENCY HAIR: ALEX
PRIZE AT FRANK AGENCY MAKE-UP: KOLBRUN RAM AT FRANK AGENCY USING DAINTY DOLL
NAILS: LUCY TUCKER AT NAKED