A decade after former model and actress Darcy La Pier left Hollywood for an Oregon ranch, she’s back in front of the camera. Now an award-winning professional barrel racer, La Pier stars in the new A&E reality series, “Rodeo Girls,” which debuted in December.
“There are girls from Montana and Washington training horses and raising kids,” she said about her fellow rodeo competitors. “They’re tough as nails and beautiful.”
La Pier, who also produces the show that follows the lives of women traveling the rodeo circuit, said she has no regrets about shelving her Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Christian Louboutin heels in favor of authentic cowboy boots. And while she must adhere to a professional rodeo dress code that includes jeans without holes, long-sleeve button-down shirts and hats, La Pier added, “We all try to look as girlie as possible.”
That means crepe-sole boots by Justin when performing and her soon-to-be launched label, No Fear La Pier, when she’s on TV. The sleek, custom looks are detailed with her name on the front of the shaft and the name of the accessories brand on the back. Designed in collaboration with master bootmaker Ryder Gauteraux of Gauteraux & Co. in Redmond, Ore., the collection will include one-of-a-kind styles handmade by Gauteraux, as well as ready-to-wear boots.
“I will be able to introduce customers to the boots via the [TV] show,” La Pier said.
And she plans to be involved in every step of the design process. “Ryder took me alligator hunting in Texas a few months ago,” La Pier said. “We’re drying the hides that will be made into purses, luggage and cowboy boots.”
For this rodeo queen, juggling a fashion career is just another chapter in her life’s saga, which has included high-profile marriages to actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, the founder of Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion and the founder of Herbalife.
“I’m still a bit of a glamour girl, but also a rough, tough cowgirl,” La Pier admitted. “I balance the two quite well.”
Boots owned: 15, including lifestyle and performance
Boot brands: “Justin custom crepe-sole boots for competition and Gauteraux & Co. for going to town.”
Fashion footwear owned: 200 pairs. “In my past life, I was very much into fashion. The shoes are so nice, I couldn’t throw or give them away. [In addition to Western boots], I wear Nike tennis shoes working out in the morning, and I wear Ugg Australia slippers at night.”
Most expensive pair of boots: “My $10,000 Darcy custom boots from Gauteraux & Co. However, I got them for free. One of the perks of being a rodeo competitor is having great sponsors. They’re made of American crocodile. I wear them all the time unless I’m riding.”
Least expensive pair of boots: “Ariats at $100. They’re plain leather and were bought at Wilco, a farm store.”
Oldest pair of boots: “Vicini made-in-Italy boots from Neiman Marcus. They’re fashion-Western with a brown leather vamp and shaft in glitter-gold leather. They were a gift and cost $3,000.”
Performance boots: “Tan ostrich and black smooth leather boots from Justin. With exotics, it’s hard to see the beauty of the skin [in black], so I want to make sure they’re a light color. Being in the dirt and mud, I try to stay clean and pretty because people pay to see [me perform]. We are show folk. I like the glitz and the sparkle.”
Most important features in a competition boot: “Comfort and grip in the stirrup. It can be dangerous if boots grip too much or too little. I like the [outsoles] to be sticky, so I prefer crepe. When competing, I turn hard three times at 45 miles per hour and I like my feet [to be secure] in the stirrup. When riding, I wear [styles] in smooth leather.”
Favorite store for Western wear: “Double ‘D’ Western Wear. They have all sorts of fun, crazy, unique and expensive items.”
Organizational strategy: “My [everyday] boots used for barn work are kept at my back door. I like to keep my riding boots in my trailer. My nice boots are kept on a high shelf in my closet so my dogs can’t get to them.”
Lure of the rodeo: “Being on the back of my horse gives me such mental freedom. If you’re rich, poor, happy or sad, it doesn’t matter. You think of nothing else but the moment. I hope I am able to inspire people to find their [true] purpose and passion.”