‘When I look back at pictures now, I’m like, what on earth were we thinking. But at the time, it really worked and was of the moment,’ says Alesha Dixon, reminiscing about her Mis-Teeq wardrobe days. Together with bandmates Sabrina Washington and Su-Elise Nash, the popstar racked up three top-ten, double-platinum albums and seven consecutive top-ten singles across Europe. And, of course, there were the outfits. ‘I’ve got a wardrobe full of stage clothes because I think they’re sentimental. I don’t think I could wear them now, but I definitely want to keep them as memorabilia. I still have the denim catsuit from the Be With Me video.’
Post Mis-Teeq (they split in 2005), it would have been really easy for Alesha to step out of the spotlight and enjoy the royalties from their floor-filler hits, such as Scandalous. But instead, she set about building her own career. After winning the glitter disco ball in Strictly Come Dancing in 2007 (she still has one of the highest average scores of any contestant to ever take part in the show), she released a solo album that earned her a Brit nomination.
Next, she joined the Strictly judging panel, replacing Arlene Phillips, which led to the BBC being accused of ageism. But her bubbly personality and genuine advice quickly won over the viewers. Unsurprisingly, three years later, Simon Cowell poached her to join him on Britain’s Got Talent, saying, ‘She’s feisty, opinionated and knows what it’s like to be a competitor and judge.’ Here, she talks walk-in wardrobes, trolling and being business savvy. Plus, check out the video below to see Alesha show off her goat training skills. Yep, you read that right...
What did you splurge on with your first pay cheque?
‘Me and my fellow Mis-Teeq ladies would have a 15-minute window spare in a crazy day, so it was like a supermarket sweep. As a young girl, I never really had a great wardrobe. I was always borrowing friends’ clothes. And so the opportunity to go shopping with that freedom was a really big deal. I loved it.’
What’s your wardrobe like now?
‘When I refurbished my house, I made sure to create a sort of dream walk-in wardrobe. In my old house, I always used to struggle for storage space or couldn’t find certain items of clothing. So now I have it in sections, like my jeans in one part, my Britain’s Got Talent stuff in another.’
People get very opinionated on Twitter about what you wear. Do you read the comments?
‘I’m really laid-back about it. I don’t know if it’s my age or the fact I’ve just been doing it so long, but I’ve got a good perspective on what’s important in life. I think, when people watch the show, they want to see statement pieces and they want to see us having fun with fashion. And I always like to be slightly on the more risk-taking side.’
Simon gets slagged off a lot about those jeans. Do you ever try to help him out by offering fashion guidance?
‘I don’t give him any stick or any advice. He knows what he likes and it works for him. David has lovely Tom Ford suits made for him and he always has an interesting tie. But I do feel for them because I think, “Oh how boring, putting on another suit every week”.’
Tell us about the record label you set up…
‘The music industry comes with a lot of politics and a lot of games. So in a way I am the underdog because I don’t have a huge machine. But at the same time, I have artistic freedom. I can make a record on my own terms. And I have that personal sense of achievement. I’ve done it all myself.’
How do you think the music industry has changed since you were starting out in Mis-Teeq?
‘I don’t even think they had MySpace when we started out. Back in those days, it felt like you had to work a lot harder to get recognition. Nowadays, artists can create their own hype. They have a quicker way of connecting with the public. For us, we had to get DJs to believe in our music and play it, and then hope it would be picked up by the bigger stations.’
Have you always been quite savvy when it comes to the business side of the industry?
‘Once Mis-Teeq became too big for us to manage ourselves, we hired Elton John’s manager. I’ve always been very hands-on because I’ve seen how artists get taken advantage of. It’s very risky and nothing is guaranteed. I think I still have the same passion that I had as an 18 year old wanting to get into the industry, but now I make smarter choices.’
Let’s talk image. What’s the secret to your healthy glow?
‘I have a trainer, but I don’t work out religiously. For me, I would love to exercise twice a week, but it depends on my schedule. When I do work out, I do a lot of body conditioning stuff, like lunges and squats. Performing on stage is definitely where I get my heart rate up.’
Any post-workout beauty essentials we need to know about?
‘Coconut oil. I use it on my skin and on my daughter’s hair. I also really love Sisley products. They’re the one thing I really indulge in. But I do try to keep it simple when I’m not working. I get made up quite a lot for my job, so when I’m at home, I kind of do the complete opposite.’