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Maur than friends Maura Higgins reveals romance with Chris Taylor blossomed from 'close friendship'

It's also been a memorable year of love for the model, who announced her split from Curtis in March 2020 and then kept her romance with Chris Taylor under wraps until last November.

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Maura models shoes from her Ego range in a Dubai desert

Maura models shoes from her Ego range in a Dubai desert

Maura Higgins with partner and former Love Island star Chris Taylor

Maura Higgins with partner and former Love Island star Chris Taylor

Maura models a pair of heels and bag from her Ego collection

Maura models a pair of heels and bag from her Ego collection

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Maura models shoes from her Ego range in a Dubai desert

Love Island star Maura Higgins is about to go global.

The Longford model is the new face of shoe brand Ego, loved by everyone from Little Mix to Khloe Kardashian.

Maura came fourth on the 2019 dating show after pairing up with now ex-boyfriend Curtis Pritchard, but she's been its biggest success.

In a whirlwind two years, the 30-year-old has created a tan line with Irish company Bellamianta, landed contracts with Ann Summers and Boohoo and launched a lashes brand with Primark.

With her appearance on Dancing on Ice and regular slots on This Morning, it's earned Maura a three-million strong Instagram following any brand would covet, so when online retailer Ego came calling it was an easy yes.

She called the shots on the bold designs to match her personality and the result is a range of 10 shoe styles and five handbags, launched last week.

Despite her success Maura says she's still pinching herself that celebrities like the Kardashians could soon be snapping up her heels.

"It's absolutely crazy," she says. "Ego got in touch and obviously I love my fashion, and a shoe collection is something that I've always dreamt of, so I jumped at the opportunity.

"There's a lot of work in it. I had full control of all the designs, so I took inspiration from the catwalk. I wanted something very different - brighter, bolder prints and an overall statement piece at an affordable price, but they look so expensive. That's what I really wanted to go for.

"They are really out there, bold prints, a stand-out shoe so I feel like if you wear them you are going to be seen."

It's also been a memorable year of love for the model, who announced her split from Curtis in March 2020 and then kept her romance with Chris Taylor under wraps until last November.

The pair met in the famous villa and stayed pals, but it wasn't until last year that their friendship became something special.

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Maura, who's been separated from family and friends in Ireland for a year because of Covid, says her romance with Chris helped her stay sane during lockdown in England.

"My love life is really good," she beams.

"We have a good time together. It's nice now that I have someone in this lockdown because otherwise, I would have been well bored by myself.

"We were very close friends and, looking back now, we never would have thought that we would be in a relationship.

"I never even thought of that, and it sort of just happened.

"We started spending a lot of time together and then it was just a bit obvious that if we get on this well it could be the foundation to a good relationship."

Maura admits living in the public eye is a downside of her change in fortune since Love Island, but it's one of the only complaints about a life which has changed beyond recognition.

She'd worked for 10 years as a hairdresser before deciding on a career change and moving to Monster Energy as a grid girl, a job which took her around the world.

Even the excitement of working with the rich and famous paled compared to the life she has created now.

"Hairdressing is a tough job and I got to a point where I just didn't like it any more and I wanted something different," tells Maura. "I was working with Monster Energy travelling around the world to events, which was a fun job, and I met some amazing people, but compared to now it's crazy different.

"I think I had no idea before I went into the show how it would change my life. Love Island was two years ago but it feels like a lifetime ago now.

"My life has changed so much. Even the fact of moving from Ireland to England. I've moved my whole life over here now.

"There have been so many unbelievable moments since then. The fact that I now have my own shoe collection, working with This Morning, being on Dancing on Ice, the fact that I have my own tan collection with an Irish brand that I chose to work for, Bellamianta. There are so many pinch-me moments."

One thing that hasn't changed is Maura's devotion to plain-speaking, from the flutters aroused on the dating show to her openness about her sex life. It earned her an agony aunt slot on This Morning and a legion of fans who love her honesty.

When Loose Women asked Maura to go make-up free on the show it chimed with her honest approach to life so she was unfazed, after regularly sharing unadorned pictures with her followers.

"When they asked me to do it, I was completely fine with it," she says. "I said no problem. People have seen me with no make-up on. I'm on my stories on Instagram all the time with no make-up on so it really doesn't bother me."

She got an even bigger response for recently sharing her hair concerns.

Maura started going grey at 18, and when she opened up about her experience, it brought in a flood of messages.

"I feel like it's just good to show the normality and the realness. I think people look at like us in the public eye and think we're perfect, but we're not. No one is perfect.

"Even the other week I was showing how much grey hair I have. I've had grey hair since I was 18 and in the responses I got there were so many women thanking me for showing that.

"There were younger girls saying, 'I have grey hair and I thought I was the only one'. When you read messages like that, it proves how important it is to show these things.

"Women can feel self-conscious about things like that, but I feel like we shouldn't because it's normal."

The brand ambassador considers herself fortunate that she gets a largely positive response online.

But even if the trolls do come calling, they can expect to be ignored.

"I'm very lucky. Everyone gets the odd negative DM and negative comment, but I feel very lucky that I don't get a lot of it.

"And when I do, I just ignore it, it doesn't affect me," she shrugs.

"If you are comfortable in your own skin then it shouldn't even affect you. You should only care about your family and loved ones, and their opinion of you."

Maura admits the most surprising part of her life now is a love of ice skating. She finished seventh on Dancing on Ice last year with pro partner Alexander Demetriou and the show ignited a passion she suspects will be lifelong.

It's top of her list for post-lockdown fun, along with visiting the family in Ireland she's only seen on FaceTime for the last year.

"Now that I'm in a relationship lockdown has been really good, but obviously I can't wait until we're all back to normal, I'm sure like everyone else.

"I just can't wait to get back ice skating again. That's the one thing that I really miss.

"It's one thing that every week I say to Chris, I just want to go ice skating.

"I will never give up ice skating. I loved that show so much."

And for a woman who's earned a lifetime of success in two years, Maura admits there is no secret strategy.

"I don't have a plan," she laughs. "I have always been this way. I don't like to plan. I just live in the moment and see whatever opportunities come my way. I just live every day as it comes."

⬤ The Maura Ego collection is available now at ego.co.uk

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