Those three little words no journalist wants to hear: Last question please. Argh. We scrabble through our notes, apologising, as Cheryl watches in amusement.
“Sorry, but there’s so much we wanted to ask…” Cheryl laughs: “You’re just nosy aren’t you?”
Yes. Frankly we are. It’s only a year since we were last at the Cannes Film Festival with Cheryl, where she does her spokesmodel twirl on the red carpet for L’Oréal Paris , the festival’s official beauty partner.
But the intervening 12 months have given us a lifetime’s material for busybodying. Where to even start? There’s the matter of second husband Jean-Bernard, who’s been dismissed along with the second half of her name. Cheryl has now officially entered Single Name Status along with Madonna and Beyoncé.
And now there’s the business of her new boyfriend , One Direction star Liam Payne . Cheryl has described herself as “very happy” right now, and they definitely make a cute couple snuggled up on the Cannes red carpet .
Cheryl with beau, One Directioner Liam Payne
Cheryl is looking gorgeous in the flesh, too. Without wanting to
get drawn into last year’s body-shaming – a low business, considering she was clearly struggling with her marriage breakdown – she’s looking toned and strong now, poured into some seriously slinky monochrome bodycon for our hotel room chat.
And let’s not forget the day job. Having confirmed she won’t be back in her X Factor judging chair, Cheryl’s been holed up in LA, Liam in tow, to work on her return to music. We can’t wait to see what the next 12 months bring…
Welcome back to the music biz, how are you feeling about it?
I’m excited, I’m ready to go again. I’m just working on different sounds and figuring stuff out at the moment. Am I nervous? Nah. Not now. Now I do it because I enjoy it. I’m not fearful of it. It’s what I love. That’s the reason to
You’re one of the most scrutinised people on the planet, does that stress you out?
I’m too far through the mill for that. You get slapped so many times, at some point it just stops hurting.
Yeah. I want to use a swear word. I just don’t give a…
Cheryl won’t be returning to the X Factor this year
We’ll imagine it. Have you always had a pretty thick skin?
I’ve developed it. I was sensitive at the beginning and I didn’t understand how somebody who knew nothing about me could write such terrible things.
Never met me. Never spoken to me. But had such a vicious opinion of me, and it would blow my mind. I was 19, they’d call me fat. That was horrible. And all the lies [sighs]. But now, I live my life. And they can live their life writing about me.
You’re probably having more fun than they are.[smiles] Yeah I guess I am.
How do you feel about how your fans spend hours debating everything you post online?
I love them. I love them even when they’ve got an opposite opinion and they don’t like what I’m doing, I listen to them. We have a close relationship.
Cheryl turns her hotel hallway into a catwalk in Cannes
Is it flattering they spend so much time wondering what’s going on in your head?
If they knew that it’s actually not that much, it would be pretty boring. So I let them get on with it. It’s more interesting than what I was thinking.
They’re also very supportive of you, through everything that happens…
I always get surprised by their support. No matter what is going on, they’re right there behind me. It’s amazing to have that kind of network.
Can you ever go out unrecognised?
I can in other places, not so much in England. I never wear disguises, there’s no point. I’ve tried it but people still recognise me. I’ve been in the industry so long they know how I walk. [We break into Girls Aloud: The way that you walk, the way that you talk] Exactly! You CAN’T escape your biology!
The famous Cheryl big hair is back.
It’s always nice to have a change, I like to have a new look every now and again. When I wake up my hair’s here [gestures to collarbone length], I just put clips in, it’s so easy to do.
After you cut your hair short you have to be conscious of taking the right vitamins, and I do L’Oréal’s Elvive Clay Mask to help with growth. And the new Elnett Crème de Mousse is amazing for styling. You know I love a bit of big hair.
Cheryl’s having a lot of fun right now
Did you miss it when you cut it off?
Not really. That was just that moment.
You seem to be having a lot of fun with your fashion right now too, what look are you going for?
The funny thing is I’m not ‘going’ for anything in particular, it just happens. It’s just what I’m drawn to when I’m choosing clothes at the moment.
So what’s catching your eye when you’re going through the rails?
Sometimes I like stuff that’s different to a dress. I wore a jumpsuit the other night, sometimes it’s shorts or culottes. It’s about the music as well, what I want my music to represent.
Have you ever chickened out of wearing something really daring?
I tend to just go for it. I’m past the stage of caring what anybody else thinks. If I want to wear it, I’ll wear it. The only reason you’d doubt your choice would be because of what other people are going to think. Why would I care?
Do you ever get stuck in a style rut?
I do it all the time still. I definitely went through a phase of ripped jeans. I’ve got hundreds of pairs. It’s crazy.
Cheryl says she has incredibly supportive fans
Are you going to stop buying them?
Probably not. I say I’m going to, but then I see a pair and I just want them again. Because those are ripped in a slightly different way to any I’ve got already, so…
You were quoted saying you only dress up to look nice for your mum.
I didn’t say that, that’s not true.
But what does your mum like you in?
She doesn’t give me style advice. She’s not really into what I do. In fact she hates the industry I’m in. She’ll never talk about any of that stuff.
Still, she must like the fact you get to make music that makes you happy…
She doesn’t like any of the stuff that goes with it. It’s difficult for her, I guess, to hear and see stuff about her daughter. So she keeps out of it. Especially if it’s fashion or edgy. She doesn’t get it. On the rare occasion I do ask her opinion, she’ll just say, “If you like it you should wear it.”
Cheryl’s excited to be back in the studio
Sound advice. Do you shop for clothes online?[jumps right in] Always.
Do you ever do that thing in the evening when you’ll drink and click?
Yeah, that’s my thing.
Does that help or hinder your style decisions?
The red wine? I think it helps. The good thing is you can send it back, so you can put what you like in your basket. When I’ve had a glass of red wine I’m more like, ‘It’ll be fine!’ I’ve had those moments when it’s arrived and thought, “Did I really order THAT?”
Got a bad habit you can’t break?
I’m a horrible luggage packer. I just throw everything in. It’s only going to get unpacked when I get there. I always say I’m not going to go over the baggage allowance, but it always happens. Because I always say, “Just in case, just in case, just in case I need it”, even though I never wear it. But you just never know…
Looking gorgeous on the red carpet at Cannes
What are your L’Oréal Paris must-haves for the red carpet?
I’ve just discovered L’Oréal Nude Magique Cushion Foundation and it’s made my skin look amazing. Their new False Lash Super Red Carpet Black mascara is designed to look good in flash photos so that’s perfect.
I love a bit of contouring right now too [inclines an impressive cheekbone towards us]. I’ve used my Infallible Sculpt Contouring palette today.
I’m having fun experimenting with a colour-pop lip, the one I wore with my dress in Cannes is L’Oréal’s new Sexy Balm in Bold Adventure .
Cheryl with our Lynne at Cannes
Are you decisive or a ditherer?
Er… At times decisive, at times a ditherer. I’m a bit of both. About everyday stuff, I dither. About work and business, I’m decisive. I just do it. I know my mind these days.
Have you ever had a diva moment?
Loads. I guess just when other people aren’t doing their job it irritates me. If I’ve got to work hard I need them to work hard, too.
What makes you embarrassed?
Compliments. I find it a bit awkward when somebody is complimenting me to my face. I don’t know whether to say “Thank you” or “Argh, stop it!”
What advice would you give your younger self?
Just don’t worry. It’ll be fine. Don’t care. Stop caring. I’d have told myself to stop caring what people think a lot earlier on.
Bounce out of bed or hit snooze?
It depends on what’s been going on. Right now I’m jetlagged so today I was like, let me sleep.
Photography: Jonas Bresnan for L’Oréal Paris Nude Magique Cushion Foundation.
Make-up: Karin Darnel using L’Oréal Paris Nude Magique Cushion Foundation.
Nails: Tom Bachik using L’Oréal Paris Color Riche L’Huile Polish .