You noted 50′s and 70′s as decades of inspiration – who are your favorite icons from that time?
Mary Alice Malone: The 50’s represent such a lasting, inspired space for fashion; with World War II concluded, it was time for a fresh start, a fresh dose of reparatory optimism, and, with it, a fresh society and aesthetic. Dior’s New Look, I find unparalleled. It was in that decade that fashion for the sake of fashion was re-energised, an overlap of when the concept of Ready-to-Wear truly emerged in retail consumption. The 70’s were then, really, a decade of female empowerment and, would you know it, I love the women Russ Meyer creates and, of course, the Hitchcock blondes. Enough said.
How has working in London influenced your aesthetic?
MA: Simply, I find London intimately influential. This is a pod so open yet so international. Anything goes here. Whereas, while few survive, everyone yet carries around his/her own story with such prideful energy.
With a history in furniture design, what do you think are some of the most beautiful interiors in NYC?
MA: Oh, The Gramercy – those colours, the randomising art, the scent. They’ve nearly succeeded in rebuilding an ecosystem. Hats off to Messrs Schrager and Lyons.
Kitten heel or sky high?
MA: I’m very moody about what I wear, so both, then neither – by which I mean fluorescent multi-coloured sneakers. But those are my personal issues. The moody moment dictates my heels.
The first pair of shoes you’ll never forget?
MA: Ha! My cousin’s orange ‘beat-up’ hand-me-down cowboy boots. LOVED the boots. I’d wear them with handle-down shorts and ride my ponies bare back. Yes, we were dirty kids.
Who do you think is the ultimate shoe craftsman?
MA: Jermyn Street shoemakers, of course, particularly John Lobb. Then again, you have your Berluti who needn’t be in the scene to dictate it. And, that, they do so well. Sadly, for men, so we will continue to work overtime to bring women that aviation-grade attention to detail that men have enjoyed for so long, which I respect, but equally envy.
As an ex Olympic equestrian, what do you feel that experience brings to shoe design?
MA: Gee! Junior Olympian! Please. Junior!! And I come with a lot of discipline, perfectionism, and the ingrown understanding that, when training, one can have bad days, weeks, and months, but that is part of growing and achieving. I’m not easily rattled, you see.
You focus on the psychology of shoes – please elaborate.
MA: I have always loved Psychology and Sociology – the two disciplines (neither of which I am an expert, just an intrigued civilian) I have always seen as essential to the innate semantics of liking, remembering, and choosing. I couldn’t possibly design and build heels if I did not know why they make us, be you a girl or a woman, feel so sexy and luxuriantly empowered. Only reason I, we, are here. Right now.