BBC’s The Voice has proven to be a hit with the nation. Introduced as a counterforce to ITV’S hugely successful talent show, The X Factor, The Voice was special because it focused solely upon the voices of the contestants and turned a blind eye, quite literally, to any other interfering factors such as appearance, race or background. Nevertheless, some contestants really did have it all – and Hannah Berney is no exception. The Welsh bombshell and full time student at the University of Exeter won a place on ‘Team Danny’, led by front man of The Script, Danny O’Donoghue, and made it to the live shows before her journey was cut short against fellow contestant, Max Milner. Berney’s on and off stage outfits caught the attention of many a fashionista, and here The Flaneur interviews Hannah on her style choices, working with Danny and what we can expect from her in the future…
Hi Hannah! It’s been an amazing year for you and it’s been great to watch you grow as an artist throughout the series of The Voice. You seem to have also grown as a young woman in terms of your style, from the innocent girl-next-door image showcased in your first audition to the more ‘risqué’ customised Urban Outfitters creation sported in the live shows. Would you agree with this?
I guess it would appear that way! I never thought of that! In all honestly the outfit in my audition was decided very last minute in my fitting session, my Mam literally had to run out and buy me a bra during rehearsals so I could wear what was agreed on. The outfit I had originally decided I wanted to wear was deemed too dark for TV, so what I ended up wearing for the blinds was pretty but it wasn’t something I would gig in normally. The Urban Outfitters dress was really beautiful and cool for the big production put together for TV but not something you’ll see me wear again. What I wore was often collaboration between production ideas, wardrobe’s ideas and what I felt comfortable in. I’m nowhere near as girly as what you saw on TV! I’d say the show really taught me to wear colour more though, the stylists headed up by Faye were awesome and I was always in there looking at everything!
Unlike other contestants on The Voice, you always seemed to be eclectic with your fashion choices and as a result it was tough to foresee what kind of outfit you would be wearing on the night. Have you always had an experimental attitude towards fashion?
Thank you! This was probably because I chose the rehearsal outfits from my own clothes, but wardrobe had a greater input in the live shows. You were being dressed so the clothes weren’t your own. In all honesty I wake up some days and want to wear high waisted shorts, biker boots and put my hair in a top knot, other days I quite like a nice dress. I like a lot of natural colours, patterns and prints, big heels, and I have had a long love affair with silk harems for about three years. My favourite make of shoe is Irregular Choice, and if you look at their concepts, combine it with Urban Outfitters, Top Shop and Tribu Jewellry, I would say that reflects my attitude to fashion.
What was your favourite outfit from your time on The Voice and why?
The outfit I really liked and was more my thing was a customised, paint-splashed Topshop playsuit with huge Jeffrey Campbell ‘Lita’ heels in the group song. I loved it, it was a good cut and I felt comfortable in it. Making the Urban Outfitter’s dress was good fun too, we changed and added so much to a cut off from the original dress.
The range of different contestants on The Voice was certainly very diverse and each one of you had a very individual dress sense, from Bo’s ‘quirky-chic’ look to Tyler’s love of suits and Max’s trademark hat. If, say, the show had actually been called “The Look”, who do you think would have won first prize and why?
Vince Kidd, hands down. Bleach blonde hair, wet look jeans and 90’s hip-hop denim jackets and tie-dye. Ben Kelly from the earlier rounds comes close second, he’s never seen without his quiff, bow tie and bright suits. Francis Wood comes in third with her tiny hot pants, Creepers and quirky shirts.
Who is your celebrity style icon and why?
I am a big fan of Rihanna’s dressed down looks. Nobody looks cooler stepping off a plane. I love some of Beyonce’s on stage looks and Fearne Cotton always looks edgy. Alongside all that I love Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe, rocking blonde hair, red lips and class.
You performed for Her Majesty the Queen at the University of Exeter as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour. How on earth does one decide what to wear/what be appropriate clothing in which to perform for such an important lady?
I was in London rehearsing so we hit Oxford and Carnaby Street in what I would describe as blind panic. I was aware that it needed to be knee length, smart and not sleeveless, but I didn’t want to wear a sack either. French Connection had the answer with a lovely maroon structured dress that still looked young. It was a “what would Middleton do” situation.
You worked very closely with The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue on The Voice – is he really as lovely in real life as he appears on the television, did he give you any useful advice and are you still in contact with him?
He’s a cool dude and a real musician; I’ve got his details and our team as a whole got on really well and stay in contact. He gave some good advice:
1. Be yourself
2. Know your “thing” and know your market
Did you get any style tips from Miss Jessie J?
She knows how to dress for the occasion and her look in rehearsals was very cool. I didn’t speak directly to her about her style, but she always wears what she wants!
Finally, can we expect a Hannah Berney album in the near future and what are your upcoming plans on your continuing ‘Berney Journey’?
(Laughs) Berney Journey! I’m going to use that. Right now it’s all about originals, finally writing new material and re-working old stuff for my EP. I’m also putting together my live show. Keep a look out on my facebook (/hannahberneyofficial) and twitter (@HannahBerney) for some new youtube videos. My first confirmed date is the 26th July in Cardiff at The Globe, where I’m previewing some of the writing I’ve been up to. Then in September I’m headlining Breakin Out Festival in Abergavenny with Tinchy Stryder, Skepta and Chip! You can get your tickets at http://www.breakinoutfestival.com/lineup.php#lineup.
Thanks, Hannah. We wish you the best of luck for the future.
Written by: Chiara Thomas
Images: Joel Khaw photography