Sunday 4 December 2016

Presidential fashion slug-fest

Independent.ie reporters

Published 30/06/2011 | 17:14

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - OCTOBER 23: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaks at the Republican National Committee Final 2010 Victory fundraising rally October 23, 2010 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The speakers were supporting Marco Rubio's run for U.S. Senate as well as several House of Representatives seats and statewide offices. Rubio is running against Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for the seat. (Photo by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - OCTOBER 23: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaks at the Republican National Committee Final 2010 Victory fundraising rally October 23, 2010 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The speakers were supporting Marco Rubio's run for U.S. Senate as well as several House of Representatives seats and statewide offices. Rubio is running against Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for the seat. (Photo by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - OCTOBER 23: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaks at the Republican National Committee Final 2010 Victory fundraising rally October 23, 2010 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The speakers were supporting Marco Rubio's run for U.S. Senate as well as several House of Representatives seats and statewide offices. Rubio is running against Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for the seat. (Photo by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)

Sarah Palin’s daughter accuses Republican contender Michele Bachmann of copying her mom.

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Ever since Marie Antoinette decorated her three-foot high wig with a model of the Belle Poule battleship, fashion has been used to make political statements. The Queen of France wore a replica of the frigate to celebrate a French naval victory over the English in 1778, and from then on her wardrobe became a signifier of France's place in the world (and her place in France).

Spot the difference: Sarah V Michele style gallery

Sarah Palin famously had her very own Marie Antoinette moment during the US presidential election in 2008, when it was reported she and her team had indulged in a $150,000 shopping spree at several high-end department stores; recession be damned. Michelle Obama promptly appeared on a television talk show wearing a high-street outfit bought online at J Crew: she didn't need to utter a word.

Enter Michele Bachmann, the latest Republican to announce her candidacy for the 2012 presidential election, and another fashion catfight begins (never mind how she proposes to halt job losses, repair the economy or deal with the Middle East).

Bristol Palin has a book to promote and weighed in on Bachmann's wardrobe choices, claiming the candidate has been aping her mother's style all too much.

"I think she dresses a lot like my mom," Bristol said . "A lot of women have done that over the last few years. I think it's odd, you know? Seeing people with red blazers with their hair up with glasses…. I don't know if [Bachmann's] wearing glasses, but you want to be like, hmm, 'Do you think that people don't notice you're dressing like my mom?'''

Is Sarah Palin a fashion icon worthy of imitation? According to Bristol, the answer is yes.

Say what you like, but at least the debate about female politicians' fashion choices goes beyond party lines.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's February interview with Harper's Bazaar was most memorable - and criticised - for her cooing over a hot-pink Ferragamo handbag.

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