As news of Sarah Palin’s wardrobe expenditures continued to generate chatter, the costume designer for “Saturday Night Live” offered a glimpse into recreating her look for Tina Fey and replicating it on Palin herself in her cameo on the show last Saturday.

On a panel on fashion stylists Wednesday night at the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising, Tom Broecker and fellow panelists discussed how people skills are essential in getting talent to follow their fashion cues. Of Palin, Broecker said, “In speaking with her, I had to get her to understand why she needed to wear the same thing as Tina. We had gone off and created it for the first time a month ago, a look we identified as Sarah Palin. She had moved on in her own image of herself. I said, ‘I know you’ve moved on, you’re wearing tighter clothes, more black,­ but this is the character of Sarah Palin.’’

This story first appeared in the October 24, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The compromise, he said, was Palin returning in her own clothes the second time she appeared on the show to cheer on Amy Poehler’s Palin-themed rap. Broecker told WWD he’d created Fey’s first look by simply googling her glasses and taking note of her preferences, including fitted clothes and high heels. “She certainly has a style and people are talking about it,” he said, diplomatically avoiding the $150,000 question.

The panelists were guests at the fashion styling class of LIM professor Michael Palladino, who is also director of client and studio services at Henri Bendel, and included Eric Daman, costume designer for “Gossip Girl,” and stylists Marni Senofonte and June Ambrose. All stressed the importance of strong business skills — “I never thought the starving artist was sexy,” said Senofonte — and a willingness to do grunt work at the entry level. They further warned students not to regard fashion styling as pure art. Daman recalled his days in editorial styling, “getting letters from editors requiring that the shoots include a certain number of advertisers,” complicating whatever had been planned creatively.

The explosion in interest in fashion styling as an industry has meant some legitimacy for stylists, said Ambrose. But it’s not always regarded as a real job, even if it now has its own class. Sometimes, she said, “Here we are feeling like senior execs and people look at us and say, ‘Oh, you’re just a shopper.’”



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