Ever seen The Devil Wears Prada? I saw it a few times when it first came out and as a partly tomboyish 12 year old girl with a fairly stylish mom seated next to me, I didn’t bother grasping the whole story. I thought I got what I needed to know. Someone like Anne Hathaway’s Andy, someone I knew from dorky to princess on Princess Diaries, could go from badly dressed to Paris Fashion Week, with a little patience and a good eye.
Now on its 10th anniversary, I want to watch the movie again. It seems relevant because I too assume I want to become a serious journalist, like the demanding devil’s right hand set out for bigger things outside the industry she first looked down on with her new sense of confidence and perhaps what you could call style. But there’s more to story than the underling growing up and out, changing through a very staged 2006 wardrobe that’s nevertheless fascinating to see. Rachel Lubitz writes just a few days ago How, In One Monologue, The Devil Wears Prada Nailed the Cultural Appropriation Issue.
Before you try to immerse yourself in an industry or culture, or mock it while appearing to embrace it (like Andy), learn the history. Because, after all, in fashion, a blue sweater is not just a blue sweater, but the result of many different people working very hard to give you something exciting. Every garment has a story.
Have a little respect.
To Madison, Streep’s monologue was the lightbulb. What Priestley is doing in that scene, essentially, is exposing how dismissive and unknowledgeable Andy is of the culture she’s taking part in — a culture that she previously viewed as frivolous.
So many of us, me included, have that tendency to view certain industries as frivolous, don’t we? Yet one way or another we all partake in them.
Despite how much of serious (still not straight news but I guess features and lifestyle) journalism I thought I had to be a part of, a part of me still looks to the left every now and then. The fashion industry repels the side of me that works under the motion that I have to do something sensible with my degree. Ironically I’ve written two final papers about philosophy and fashion, haha. Maybe it repels my face that never looks good in makeup for more than two hours and can’t stand on heels for three. There is however a quite as large side of me that’s drawn to fashion beyond its aesthetic appeal. Though I’ll never be a slave to it like my mom warned and how some of the characters in the film have shown, who knows? I might hate to love and love to hate working in it if I choose to strut into that direction for a change.
*Here’s another 10th anniversary related opinion article about the film. It criticizes the film but I think moreover, it shoots down the many assumptions people have about how they think the film should be as oppose to letting it just be.