Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sarah Palin's $150,000 + Fashion Transformation

Lisa A. Kline, 47, is the wardrobe consultant who made an Alaska hockey mom-turned-governor named Sarah Palin into chic vice-presidential material for the Republican National Convention in September 2008, and in doing so inadvertently set off a furor.

“Wardrobegate,” as Ms. Kline’s $150,000-plus fashion transformation became known, undermined Ms. Palin’s carefully crafted homespun image when the news broke two weeks before the election.

The Republican National Committee spent $75,062 at Neiman Marcus and $49,425 at Saks Fifth Avenue in September for Ms. Palin and her family.Advisers to Ms. Palin said that the purchases — which totaled about $150,000 and were classified as “campaign accessories” — were made on the fly after Ms. Palin, the governor of Alaska, was chosen as the Republican vice-presidential candidate on Aug. 29 and needed new clothes to match climates across the 50 states.

Details about pricey designer clothes and a whirlwind $75,062 trip to Neiman Marcus outraged both Democrats and Republicans. In her new memoir, “Going Rogue,” Ms. Palin is still trying to distance herself from the incident.

As for her fee of $54,900, reported in campaign filings, it also covered an assistant and some expenses. She said the high fee was justified because styling the Palins was a last-minute holiday weekend assignment that had Ms. Kline sleeping no more than a few hours at a time. “It’s very hard to put a figure on a 24-hour day,” she said.

On the afternoon of Aug. 29, 2008, Ms. Kline fielded a surprise phone call: Was she available to dress Sarah Palin for the Republican National Convention, which was to begin three days later on Labor Day? Then, Ms. Kline said she was asked to provide clothes for the entire Palin family, including the candidate’s husband, Todd; their sons Track and Trig, the infant; and daughters Bristol, who was pregnant, Willow and Piper. Levi Johnston, Bristol’s then-boyfriend, was also included.

With less than 24 hours before the Palins’ national debut on the tarmac, it was decided that the luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, which has a store in Minneapolis, offered the best available selection for the circumstances. Arrangements were made for a private early-morning trip.

Neiman Marcus opened for Ms. Kline and her assistant at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, she said, and the two split up and spent a rushed 90 minutes or so gathering what they needed. According to election filings, more than $130,000 of clothing charges from New York and Minneapolis was picked up by a Republican consultant, Jeff Larson, who was reimbursed by the Republican National Committee.)

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