Mel Ottenberg is a Certified Big Deal™ in Fashion Land, having styled Bjork and Chloe Sevigny before becoming Rihanna’s all-day-every-day outfit planner. So why is he now working with Birkenstock, the brand beloved by hot camp counselors who just dropped out of Oberlin?
“Not just Oberlin—I went to Rhode Island School of Design, and I wore them too!” he laughed. “Also, when I was a teenager, I interned for Marc Jacobs, and I would wear white Birkenstocks to the office. The city was so hot in summer; we all wore them with basically everything.”
Fast forward to now, when “utility shoes”—Crocs at Christopher Kane, Tevas at Versace—have taken over runways, while Rihanna herself makes best-selling slides for Puma.
But though the ultimate Phish concert staple now looks chic with high-waisted pants and tailored billowy dresses, we had to ask the master of extra-sexy street style: how can we wear a Birkenstock and get laid?
“That is a fucking great question,” Ottenberg replies. “I’m thinking a mini-dress and short-shorts with Birkenstocks is cute, and you can definitely do it for night. But you can’t wear Birkenstocks with a hooker dress, can you?”
Hooker dress, perhaps not. But what about one of RiRi’s famous Naked Dresses?
“Oh, you can totally wear a Birkenstock with a naked dress!” he says. “Yes. Absolutely. You’ve just got to have the attitude like, ‘This is my look. I’m low-key in a naked dress. I’m just going to the deli to get a six pack. Hello.'”