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NEW YORK — What’s a girl to do — buy Manolo Blahniks at $100 a pop or vote? Such was the dilemma fashion devotees grappled with at the Manolo sample sale on Election Day.

Well, they are the fashion flock, so you can guess which one won.

The earliest arrivals set up camp at the Warwick Hotel at 5 a.m. The doors, which opened “early” at 8:30, were manned by Manolo public relations girls wearing “Vote or Die!” T-shirts. Meanwhile, the adjacent holding pen contained a crowd of 25, ranging from fashion assistants to lawyers to manicurists. They’d been lucky enough to snare one of the early shopping slots before the general public arrived at 11 and anxiously waited to be let into the main room.

Naturally (and thankfully, proving that rabid fashion types don’t totally live in a bubble) the topic of conversation turned to the presidential race. WWD seized the opportunity to conduct an informal poll of 20 shoppers. Only three had voted, one of whom was an intellectual property lawyer who pulled the lever for President Bush at 6 a.m. Another was a fashion editor who made sure she got to the polls by 8:30 so she could make the sample sale. The third, a department store merchandiser, voted at 7:45 before heading up to the hotel.

One Condé Nast assistant declined to give her name or the title of the magazine she worked for because “I told my boss I was voting when I was really coming here.” She even covered her face with her handbag when a photographer showed up.

Inside the main selling room, the long rectangular card tables were covered with mounds of shoes. Shoppers tore through them, hoarding piles for themselves and unself-consciously plopping down on the floor to try on boots and pumps.

So was it worth it? “A pair of Carolines in crocodile for $400?” one fashion publicist, who’d been there since 5:15 and was voting after work, said of her purchase, which normally would retail for $1,975. “Yeah, life-changing.”

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