Gov. Nikki Haley has hit the glamour pages big-time with some new fashion photographs many in South Carolina might find unrecognizable.
Haley is featured in the May issue of Vogue, showing a couple of looks that leave the business suits she’s most commonly known for long forgotten.
One shot, which can be seen on the magazine’s web pages, shows her in a shortish skirt sitting on a couch, surrounded by staffers.
Another shows her dressed in casual clothes and posing waterside, hair lightly windblown back.
Fashionistas in Charleston say the look is a hit.
“Very Jackie O,” said Marie Lorentz, co-owner of Canvas hair, a design salon on King Street. “She looks like a powerful, beautiful woman.”
Haley’s new looks are featured in a story titled “Governor Nikki Haley: New Horizons,” by Christopher Cox.
“After riding into office on a wave of Tea Party enthusiasm, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley now faces a fractious Republican Party,” the lead-in says. “How conservative will she go?”
College of Charleston political scientist Jerri Cabot said the changes (new hairstyles and clothes) are meant to feature the governor on the national stage with a sense of confidence that Haley can be the complete executive.
The photographs say “you can be yourself, and be powerful and feminine at the same time,” Cabot said.
But Cabot also noted the looks are radical departures from what South Carolina’s public is used to from their conservative governor.
“I kind of gave her credit for wearing the ‘every woman’ suit,” Cabot said of Haley’s modest Monday through Friday business attire. “They kind of looked ‘off the rack.’ ”
Maybe “she has been sucked into the whole commercialism of being mentioned and writing a book and speaking on behalf of national figures,” Cabot said.
Back at the Canvas salon, Lorentz and business partner Turner Watson said they felt it was unfair to focus on Haley’s appearance in magazine pages.
Male political figures, such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, have both been seen on GQ and Esquire covers, they said, without being critiqued.
Plus, Watson said, being governor of the state “doesn’t mean she has to be a country bumpkin.”