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Palin Cleared... Cannes' Dark Knights... Opposites Attract...

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been exonerated by the Federal Election Commission.

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PALIN AND WAL-MART CLEARED: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP vice presidential candidate who caused a stir last year when she spent $150,000 on a high-end fashion shopping spree during the election, has been exonerated by the Federal Election Commission. The FEC dismissed the case against Palin, a decision made April 30 but made public Tuesday by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the watchdog group that originally filed the complaint. The group alleged Palin, the Republican National Committee and several operatives violated campaign finance laws by “improperly” using funds to glam up the candidate’s wardrobe at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Macy’s for her debut on the national stage. The FEC agreed with Palin and the RNC that RNC money was used to purchase clothing and accessories and not Palin’s own campaign funds. The FEC also closed a case filed against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. by labor groups alleging the retailer violated election laws by warning employees to vote against then-Sen. Barack Obama for president because he supported legislation that would make it easier for employees to unionize.

SHOW BUSINESS: Italy’s Camera della Moda is still fine-tuning its schedule for men’s fashion week in Milan, and, while few major surprises are expected, a handful of smaller houses will forgo the runway in June. Among them are Haute, Andrew Mackenzie and Belstaff, which will opt for a presentation at an as-yet-unnamed location.

DARK KNIGHTS: Striking electricity workers caused a power cut during the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday. Stores and hotels along the Croisette were left temporarily without power midafternoon as workers at Electricité de France demonstrated in the town center. At a cocktail to fete Dsquared’s new store, guests milled outside in the sunshine while the interior was left in darkness. “You can’t see anything,” said designer Dan Caten, in good humor. But things could take a more dramatic turn today: Rumor has it strikers are threatening to cut the power again during Quentin Tarantino’s drum-rolled premiere of “Inglourious Basterds.”

WRITER’S MUSE: From catlike, furry boots by Bruno Frisoni in homage to “Puss in Boots” author Charles Perrault to a 19th-century style armchair by Paul Smith for Patti Smith, asking 40 designers to imagine objects for their favorite writer makes for an unusual read in Editions Norma’s latest design tome, “Design & littérature: Une liaison inspirée” by journalist and designer Esther Henwood. In the book, published this week, Matthew Williamson dreams up a large wicker armchair for the Indian author Kiran Desai while Christian Lacroix picks three French novelists, imagining a wrought iron chair for Patrick Modiano, a Baroque-style armchair with orchid embellishment for Joris-Karl Huysmans and a praying mantis chair with Gothic detailing for Joseph Delteil. “I have never stopped consulting them,” Lacroix said of the writers who have inspired him in numerous collections.

MOVING OVER: Longtime Bloomingdale’s insider Stephanie Zernick is leaving for a bigger volume job with the big sister division, Macy’s. Zernick, Bloomingdale’s vice president and divisional merchandise manager of handbags and small leather goods, has become group vice president of handbags, small leather goods, soft accessories, hosiery and sunglasses at Macy’s. It’s an opportunity that opened up with the recent centralization of Macy’s, forming a national buying group. “She came to Bloomingdale’s right out of college and spent 24 years with us. She elevated the business,” said Michael Gould, Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive. “She has epitomized the passion and the loyalty and the commitment of the people at Bloomingdale’s.”

Zernick is the wife of Frank Doroff, Bloomingdale’s vice chairman and general merchandise manager of rtw and Bloomingdale’s Direct. She reported to Francine Klein, executive vice president and gmm of accessories, cosmetics and fine jewelry.



OVER THE POND: Carla Wachtveitl, formerly part of designer Yohji Yamamoto’s public relations team in America, is moving over to Givenchy — and to Paris. Wachtveitl joins the French fashion house as worldwide press manager, reporting to Caroline Deroche Pasquier, public relations and press director, effective June 1.

NIFTY FIFTIES: There’s no stopping Parisian night lord André. The pint-sized entrepreneur said he’s preparing to open his next hotel venture in Saint-Tropez in June. Called the Hermitage, the inn will boast a mix of rooms and artist residences, with Chloë and Paul Sevigny; Dash Snow, and The Virgins already lined up to lodge there. “In the Fifties, all the artists would go down to Saint-Tropez. The hotel really has the look of that era,” he said.

OPPOSITES ATTRACT: Oddball fashion couplings seem to never go out of style. After collaborating with Jean Paul Gaultier and Raf Simons, Dr. Martens is bringing its rebel aesthetic to Comptoir des Cotonniers, the mother-daughter contemporary label better known for floaty dresses than heavy-duty footwear. Dr. Martens has created a new version of its classic eight-hole ankle boot in mouse gray leather for fall, retailing at 140 euros, or $189. Quiksilver, meanwhile, has teamed up with trendy Japanese streetwear designer Takashi Kumagai for a range of jackets, shirts, T-shirts, shorts and bags, to be sold in select Japan boutiques and Colette this month. Finally, gypsy-inspired label Manoush has tapped French handbag designer Inès Etienne for a transparent acrylic bag designed to eliminate endless rooting. Priced at 115 euros, or $155, the bag will be available in Manoush stores this summer.