Perspective on Palin’s Shopping Spree
This is truly a sideshow in the election — and in fact tomorrow I’ll blog what I think is the basic issue for someone looking at the Presidential choice from the point of view of what’s best for the enterprise of American science — but one of the problems of making sense of the stunningly tone-deaf decision to cloak Sarah Palin in $150,000 wardrobe is to get a handle on just how much money that really is in the world of fashion.
Fashion isn’t just show; I and my wife have both worked in various nooks and crannies of the film business – and my wife has designed a couple of multi-million dollar productions, so we have some family knowledge of what it takes to make people look good on camera.
It takes a lot. For example, if you want an extra — an extra! — to look right in a historical drama, budget more than a thousand for, say, a nineteenth century uniform with all the accoutrements. Leading players need more and better — their clothes have to fit and they have to have enough different costumes to carry them through the entire time sequence of a film.
All of which is to say is that if you want to get a sense of whether or not the McCain campaign’s shopping spree on Palin’s behalf was extravagant, a Hollywood feature is a good place to look.
In fact, a film shoot a pretty precise analogue to the experience of a campaign: major feature shoots run about as long or longer than the Sept-Nov span of Gov. Palin’s run; they both involve repeated changes of scene and clothes, and they are each as merciless as the other in the scrutiny to which the camera subjects its targets.
So — what’s the best comparison between Palin, the unlikely couture poster child and someone in the film business?
IMHO, the best place to start is with The Devil Wears Prada, a film all about aspirational fashion set in the very capital of Unreal America, in the city that happens to be the center of the rag trade.
The character played by Meryl Streep, the devil of the picture (the avatar for Vogue‘s Anna Wintour), was supremely well dressed. The character character represents an upper bound for measuring just how outlandish the Palin clothing budget may be: “Miranda Priestly” (Streep) was supposed to look better than the readers of her magazine; she represented more than an aspiration, as understood in a magazine industry that refers to Vogue and similar publications as “fantasy books.” Governor Palin needs to us fashion to a different end to convey the message of hercharacter within the political drama: she shouldn’t seem to live in a world completely out of reach, but rather to appear as a slightly larger-than-life embodiment of achievable aspirations. She needs to look good, but not impossibly so.
So what did it cost to dress someone supposed to embody the pinnacle of fashion?
The budget for Ms. Streep’s costumes was reported to be $100,000. There was a fair amount of stuff — especially accessories, like jewelry that was loaned to the production, but the core of Streep’s film wardrobe was expected to cost two thirds of what it took to keep the rain off of Sarah Palin.
So, just to belabor the obvious: yup, Governor Palin’s 150K wardrobe is over the top. A good film shopper could have dressed Palin for much less — and still left her looking great in all the various settings in which she found herself. The McCain campaign and its handpicked robo-slime operator turned fashionista screwed up…which I suppose we already knew.
Image: Day dresses for summer 1919 from Vogue magazine. Source: Wikimedia CommonsExplore posts in the same categories: couture, McCain, Palin, political follies, Stupidity comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.