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Why shoe designer Mary Alice Malone so loves London

The American creative director of shoe brand Malone Souliers talks about her affinity with horses and why she finds London fascinating.

YOU WERE BORN AND RAISED IN THE HEART OF THE PENNSYLVANIAN COUNTRYSIDE. WHAT WAS GROWING UP THERE LIKE? “It was a very creative atmosphere because we were detached from the rest of the world. There was no worrying about what anybody thought of you and what trends were. I was allowed to grow up not under­standing that kids wouldn’t like you because you were this or that, or you could wear the wrong things. My mother breeds horses, so I was surrounded by them. At the end of the day, the horses don’t care if you’re pretty or not, if you’re a blonde or a redhead. They just care if you’re a nice person and if you work hard.”

WAS THIS ATTITUDE INSTILLED BY YOUR FAMILY? “My mother still works tirelessly. She is one of the most self-determined humans I know. She took care of my sister and me and still worked day in, day out. Horses require care 24/7, so your work really becomes your lifestyle.”

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YOU WERE ON THE TEAM USA JUNIOR OLYMPIC EQUESTRIAN TEAM. WHAT DID THAT INVOLVE? “We would be in school all day and I would generally come back to train – by choice – after school and athletics. So from six to nine at night, I was training. I would get my three horses sorted, and then get up the next day and do that all over again. I learnt from this experience that perfection is some­thing no one will ever probably need, but that joy comes from the constant striving for perfection.”

WHAT WAS IT LIKE STUDYING AT CORDWAINERS, AT THE LONDON COLLEGE OF FASHION? “I find London fascinating! Like Pennsylvania, but in a very different way; nobody cares what you look like or how you dress. Everybody comes from such different backgrounds. And everybody’s OK with everything being different.”

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TELL US ABOUT YOUR LATEST COLLECTION, WHICH IS INSPIRED BY GERMAN ARTIST REBECCA HORN. “I have a particular affinity for feathers and a lot of her work deals with feathers. She also employs psychology in her installation work. It was one of the first times I saw an artist address the idea of both space and intimacy within their work. All of her work deals with very primary and very beautiful emotions, and this is something I want to continually channel in each of the brand’s collection.”