I know. Ahhhhhh how terrifying are these?! BIRKENSTOCKS!!!!
If I had shown these do you three years ago, you would’ve called me a traitor!
And you would’ve been totally justified. Years back, I hated Birkenstocks too.
But this morning, I’m posting a pair (even if I’m having a little vertigo at the thought of clicking post.)
But before you think I am lost to the cause of style, let me show you the timeline of my Birkenthoughts.
July 1991, Ajaccio
My friend C* had just come back from New York. C is coolitude incarnate. I still can’t figure out how we are friends because she is 1,000 times cooler than me. Like I almost fainted the first time she came over to talk to me.
Not only is she beautiful (she is a model in her free time – the first model I ever met !!!), but her style was unreal. She lived in Paris which, just that is already the height of Ajaccian coolitude and add to that the fact she was coming back from New York and yeah, kill me now how cool is that?
It was a longtime since I’d seen her. We got together to spend a few days of her vacation together. I couldn’t wait to see what she brought back from New York.
She knocked on the door. I opened it and right then, framed by the doorway, light breaking through into my livingroom, her silhouette gracefully floated in and I WAS KNOCKED OFF MY FEET BY STYLE.
I’ll remember that outfit for the rest of my life I was so in shock.
She had cut her hair which put her sublimitude on the same planet as Jean Seberg, direct flight. She was wearing a skimpy little sweatshirt and washed out high-waisted skinny jeans, and yeah, as you probably guessed, a pair of Birkenstocks** with socks.
I was still in stylistic shock as I looked at her shoes and she said so nonchalantly that almost knocked me out completely, “Oh these? Everyone in New York is wearing them, all the models do. So perfect for running back and forth between casting calls?”
Coolitude knock out. New York? Models? Casting calls?
I was in pieces next to this giant swarm of coolitude. I needed those.
August 91, in my high school bedroom, surrounded by The Face magazines I’d collected. I cut out a photo and pasted*** it onto my inspiration wall
Yeah, her. In Birks.
I wouldn’t dare buy them though. I’m no tourist**, oh me, oh my! (But I am not stupid?)
1997 or something like that… I buy my first pair of Birks.
I could write you a big heartfelt story about the shopping experience but honestly, I don’t remember. I waited too long and they went totally mainstream. Everyone has them.
2006 (I know, what am I? 342 years old or something? (Response = Yes.) I throw my Birks away.
EVERYONE IS WEARING THEM.
In France at least. As soon as summer gets there, here we go, everyone takes out the Birks.
Colors got crazier and crazier. People bought shiny ones, glittery ones, weirdly shapes ones. I found myself wearing a shiny orange pair one day and said, Okay, this joke has lasted long enough. Garance, get yourself together.
The slightly ironic (I’m so sublime that my beauty strikes you even more with my priest shoe) rough-around-the-edges thing they had going for them became lost on me.
2012, Three isolated events caught my attention.
1 – Christopher Kane puts pool shoes on the runway and everyone goes crazy about how ingenious it is. It reminds me of something.
2 – The 90s are back. Off the shoulder sweaters and tapered jeans. Raw minimalism.
I get a weird thought in my head… I want a pair of Birkenstocks. I tell Scott thinking he’s gonna use his right to veto but he answers : “Me too. I want some Birkenstocks.”
I veto his desire. Seriously on him? No way!
3 – Oh, by the way, funny ! I don’t see Birkenstocks anymore on the streets.
4 – Phoebe Philo, who is to fashion what Tom Cruise is to Scientology, puts on the runway a pair of bizarre furry shoes during her show. It’s not a sign, it’s a declaration.
And there’s my Birkenstock stream of consciousness : LOOK OUT! BIRKENSTOCKS ARE MAKING A COMEBACK AND I WANT A PAIR.
There you have it. That’s my story. Here’s an update: I tried to wear them the other day and everyone stared at my feet. Oh boy. I think I’ll stick with it though, just so I can say “I told you so.”
If you see me on the street, don’t freak out. I’m no tourist**. Please know that once upon a time, I was stylish. I even used to wear heels, don’t you worry.
You still love me? Even in Birkenstocks?
* Noooo! Not the same CC that smokes too much weed.
** Back in the day, as locals and proud of it, our way of knowing a tourist from a non-tourist was just seeing if they were wearing Birkenstocks.
*** When I say paste, I mean like really paste. I put stuff all over my room back at home. I can still hear her shriek when I first started doing it. Don’t worry Mama, I lost my super glue.
Translation : Tim Sullivan