The Rick Owens/ Birkenstock Experience by Ron Wash


Dear Shaded Viewers,

As I drove up to the valet line at the posh Rick Owens Store in Los Angeles, I really did not know what to expect with his new collaboration with the legendary Birkenstock.  I always thought of Birkenstocks as sandals hippies wore at Woodstock in the late 1960’s or the statement shoe granola eating hikers wore in Oregon. What was I going to discover at the Rick Owens and Birkenstock Collaboration Party hosted by his wife, Michelle Lamy?


As I entered the party, I ran right into Michelle Lamy, looking like a Peruvian earth goddess with inked stained fingers, gold teeth, tribal marks on her forehead and draped in a golden Rick Owens frock. Her look was fashionable and disturbing all at the same time…… almost like a creature from an Indiana Jones movie.  We hugged and I said…….”I have not seen you in ages”.   With that comment we both laughed.  I don’t know if Michelle remembered me or not.  But, I headed to the bar to grab a cocktail because the atmosphere was the typical LA scene……the one where everyone watches each other and no one seems to have good time.


Upon entering the actual boutique, I found the Rick Owens’ collection to be wonderfully unconventional with clean lines, new cuts and bold shapes.  The key color was black with various textures and mixes of fabrics marked by splashes of white.  Models were informally standing around in various Rick Owens looks topped off with Birkenstocks.  I wanted to know what was the fuss about?  Why do I need a Rick Owens pair of Birkenstocks?  I walked over to a representative and asked to be shown the line.  With delight, the rep, showed me several pairs of the Rick Owens’ Birkenstocks in black leather, army blanket and grey with fur.  I asked,  “what is the difference between a regular pair of Birkenstocks and the Rick Owens version…….“the straps are longer”  whispered the rep with a smile.    I snapped a few more photos and moved around the space.


Did I need a $525 dollar pair of Rick Owens Birkenstocks to be cool this summer?….probably not.  But, I was warming up to the idea especially with the thick cotton slub socks making the Birkenstocks look truly modern.  For the record, the Rick Owens Birkenstock  are pricey when you compare them to a regular pair averaging around $100 dollars.  Why was my brain working like an accountant on tax day?  At the same time, I could see Michelle mixing and mingling with other guests inside the boutique as onlookers watched as other guests received complimentary foot massages. I briefly, thought about it but my bronze military boots aren’t the easiest to take off. So the foot massage was out of the question.  My best bet was to head back to the courtyard to see what else was new.


In the courtyard area where the guest entered, I could see Ms Jay from the television show “America Next Top model “ arrive on the faux grass covered parking lot looking fashionable as always.  As I sat for moment to gather my thoughts in the sun, I placed my camera on the chair next to me.   A young millennial supervising the event walked over to me with an important looking earpiece in his ear and said  “ Who do you work for? “ I graciously explained and he said “ Oh you can’t take pictures…. but you can enjoy the party as a guest”.  He curtly walked away.  I sat there for minute to soak in the moment as if I heard words for the first time.  As Sweet Brown, the viral sensation would say…… “ Aint Nobody got time for that.”


I picked up my Nikon camera and walked out of the launch party.   The Rick Owens / Birkenstock experience was over.









photos by  Ron Wash   @ronwashphoto


Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.