When I first watched the movie, ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, I was 20 years old, a final year student B.Tech Program. I had a job offer and this movie could have taught me, the struggle of Andrea for her survival in a fashion magazine office. I think every woman should watch this movie. This movie got everything, from a good direction to a wonderful wardrobe (even for the junior artists) to strong women and a the wonderful parallel story track of Andrea and Miranda.
This movie, based on the novel of the same name by Lauren Weisberger, starts with parallel shots of the morning routine of the women working for the ‘Runway’, fashion magazine and Andrea, an aspiring journalist who is preparing herself for the interview. When the women are seen covering themselves under branded and fashionable clothings and makeups(even their undergarment are branded too); Andrea is shown as another girl next door. She is not even aware of the name of the editor-in-chief of the magazine. Her interview with Miranda was quite catastrophic. Miranda Priestly, a graceful, strong-headed and fashionable woman didn’t even bother to ask her more than two question. But she was selected as her assistant.
The first half of the movie revolves around how Andy is struggling to survive as the Dragon Lady’s assistant and simultaneously taking the essence of fashion as granted. Her colleagues Emily and Nigel were her breathing mask under that pressure.
Then one day she realised as she is working for a fashion magazine, legendary in the fashion world, being indifferent towards fashion won’t help her. And that was her turning point. The second half shows her success, development in personality, her struggle to cope up with her personal life and ultimately her choice to ditch Emily to attend the Paris fashion week as Miranda’s assistant.
The story comes to a full circle when Miranda opened up to Andy about her upcoming divorce, her genuine motherly love for her twin daughters and how media will blame her success for that. Andy also faced the same thing before coming to Paris. Her boyfriend and her friends also blamed her success as she was unable to give them the time they were used to get. Thus both women; the successful and the aspirant stands at the same point. But unlike Miranda, Andy chose her personal life and quit Runway for another big publication.
Andrea, the Aspirant
I think Andrea is us, the young naive little girl. She dreams to be a journalist but she lacked the homework for the interview she was going to appear in. She thinks that the potential talent and brain matters not the look. That’s why Miranda stated that she has no fashion sense but she got the job because of her impressive resume and her confidence.
Like all of us, she is clumsy, adaptive, curious, determined but takes her job granted. To her, ‘Runway’ is just a magazine. But for Nigel, her senior and friend from the office pointed her out, “Do you think this is a magazine? This is not just a magazine. This is a shining beacon of hope.” He enlightens her that fashion is another form of art and Runway publishes some of the greatest artist of the century. His enlightenment was the wake up call for her. She learns to love fashion. She learns that when you can’t succeed in your job until you learn to love the essence of the job and adapt the environment of the workplace. Eventually with the help of both brain and beauty she was able to be Miranda’s close person; even Miranda opened up to Andy about her insecurities in the personal life.
If it was not the first assistant Emily and the art director Nigel, Andy would never be able to transform and be Miranda’s favourite. Though they were the supportive character, still they left their mark on the movie.
Emily was a classic ‘devoted to the boss’ employee. She tries her best to keep up with Miranda’s expectations but fails all the time. She doesn’t want any competition coming in her way. Inshort she worships the magazine. But never gets the reward she wants. She only helps Andy whenever she needs Andy’s help. She is basically the every other toxic yet helping colleague you meet everyday.
And there is Nigel, the angelic colleague who will become your best friend slowly. If it was not Nigel, Andy would have been fired long ago. He is a good observer with a sharp nose. Just by smelling Andy’s breath he figured out that she had Onion beagle in the breakfast. He can read people thoroughly. And the best thing about him that he is easy going with everyone. When Andy started to shine, he warned her about the proud attitude she might get as a part of her success. Though Nigel’s sexual orientation was not revealed properly, but he is the epitome of metrosexual men. Personally I would love to have an husband who has such good taste in fashion.
Miranda, the Marvellous
Miranda Priestly is the other name of success. She is perfectionist, punctual, stylish, composed, organized. And she wants her assistants to be exactly like her. Her character is based on Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue Magazine. Miranda knows exactly what she wants, be it her starbucks or the brand new collection from a new designer.
At the beginning Emily stated that she is a legend. The very news of her coming to the office was enough to put everyone on line. She is so punctual, that even Nigel was surprised why she was 15 minutes early. She works in a fashion magazine. She is a zero tolerance perfectionist. So she expects everyone in the office to keep the essence of fashion alive. She is an iron willed woman. So everyone tries to live upto her expectation. She is dedicated to fashion and art. Only she can distinguish the difference between cerulean blue and turquoise blue. She can even lecture about the origin of cerulean blue. As she takes her job seriously she can clearly remember the exact cover topic of an issue published two years ago.
But Miranda is an ultimate genius woman and a great politician. She knew that she was supposed to be removed by the board to bring much younger Jacqueline. Her true character was prominent only in the fashion week arc. She offered the creative director post of fashion designer Holt to Jacqueline as she honoured the talent of her dear rival. Though she had a tough image but she adored real talents like a true leader. So she easily got the signs of writer, photographer, models, designer and others whom she discovered and nurtured to assist Runway on the petition to stop her from leaving Runway. And she was well aware of Nigels loyalty and talent. That’s why she kept him by her side. She was devastated about her divorce. But she was more worried about her children than her own image. She was not stone hearted after all.
In my eyes, Miranda was never the devil. She was a born leader and she wanted the best to be extracted out of her employes. Her influence changed the clumsy Andy into an organized dignified woman. Miranda faced the same criticism which are always used against the strong willed career oriented woman. Those criticism are only used to make the women feel guilty as they wish to be ambitious. May be the film was released in 2006. But after 13 years still this movie is relevant to inspire women to be like Miranda or Andy or Nigel. Just be ambitious. Be headstrong. Then may be one day their success stories will be featured as the cover story.