Hell in (Jimmy Choo) Heels: A Look at Anna Wintour in The September Issue and Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada
The Devil Wears Prada is one of my all-time favorite films. Perhaps because it treats the fashion industry with more respect than it is usually given in mainstream pop culture. Ormaybe because Anne Hathaway is charming as a naïve newcomer at a fashion magazine. Or perhaps because Emily Blunt is so scathingly funny as the assistant to Miranda Priestly, cold and kind of mean. Wait, I know exactly why. Because Meryl Streep is amazing in it.
In the adaptation of Lauren Weisberger’s semi-autobiographical novel, Meryl Streep plays the editor-in-chief of a world renowned fashion magazine called Runway. Priestly is one of the most ruthless and deadly bosses in the business, so much so that people will walk out of elevators so she can have one of her own. But what makes Streep’s performance so mesmerizing and awesome is the fact that she doesn’t make it a caricature or joke. She plays it seriously, and even gives Priestly a heart and real emotion, something Weisberger failed to show in her novel.
In the documentary The September Issue, we follow Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue, whom Weisberger based her devil on. But Wintour throughout the documentary proves she’s not nearly as evil as is thought. Icy, cold, and bitchy; yes, she is. But not heartless. She’s professional about everything, even though she does remain the commander in the office.The
doc, which chronicles the making of Vogue’s 2007 September issue, their biggest ever, also provides enlightenment on how Vogue is run. We meet Grace Coddington, a former model and now creative director at Vogue. She has true fire and passion. As she tries to save her babies throughout the issue, particularly her 1920’s tribute section, which looks absolutely gorgeous.
While Anna and Miranda may have paralleling histories and behaviors, the two are very different. The actual character of Miranda is a hyped up, evil joke used as revenge on Wintour, but Streep handles the role with grace and passion, making Miranda Priestly a much more interesting and complex character. In one scene, Andy (Anne Hathaway) walks in on Miranda, wiping her tears, and we see Miranda vulnerable, watching her as she asks Andy to try to cover up Miranda’s recent divorce plans with her husband. We are shown that she isn’t a career obsessed minion of evil; she’s a human, and moreover she’s a woman who loves her children and wants to protect them from the world of hurt she knows. But what’s misinterpreted as being work crazy is merely being acceptably devoted and passionate about your job. It’s the same with Anna Wintour, who, wearing those icy shades, has been called the Ice Queen. She’s passionate about work, but she’s professional. She’s doing her job; she’s not doing it to be spiteful.
The Devil Wears Prada is both a fun film to watch on a Sunday night, but also something that can be legitimately seen as a film as opposed to a movie or chick flick. The September Issue is an engrossing documentary that shows how beautiful fashion can be and how passionate people can be about their work. And both show audiences that fashion isn’t just the clothes you buy, but that it’s actual art.
The Devil Wears Prada: A-
The September Issue: B+
The Devil Wears Prada Trailer/Excerpt:
The September Issue trailer: