Before flying off to the Mideast Donors conference in Paris, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - and two black SUVs full of diplomatic security agents - popped into Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase, Md., Saturday for a little holiday shopping spree. And now we know how the sartorially savvy Rice gets all that shopping done without the paparazzi, as it were in sleepy Washington, mauling her: she's a member of "the Club" at Saks, where VIP clients can shop and try on clothes without the commoners and gossip informants seeing (and then reporting) their every move.
Rice shopped in the St. John boutique in Saks and perused the sales racks on the second floor before heading to the privacy of the club to try on various items. We're not sure what she left with for herself, as a predictably stodgy spokesman for the department store declined to comment, but we're told by a well-placed source in the store that the president's top diplomat didn't buy any shoes.
(Shoes are what got Rice in trouble in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She took a lot of flak from various news organizations - and later from movie director Spike Lee - for reports that she binged on shoes at the ultra chic Ferragamo store on 5th Ave. in New York. Gawker reported that she was accosted by an angry shopper who questioned Rice's spending spree in light of the devastation wrought by Katrina. But our colleague Glenn Kessler reports in his book "The Confidante" that while Rice admitted the ill-timed visit to Ferragamo, she denied she was accosted.)
While we couldn't verify with the Saks spokesman, we're told Condi left with some very expensive products likely intended as gifts - no doubt, one of them for her dear friend Laura Bush. Let's just say, if it's what we think it is... the first lady will enjoy (carrying) it.
OMG, how much do you want to bet it's a Judith Leiber purse? Condi's been known, after all, to tote one around herself. Also, St. John Knits? This explains a LOT, don't you think?