How 'The Devil Wears Prada' Brought Fashion to the Rest of Us

Desiree Prieto

In 2006, David Frankel directed The Devil Wears Prada, a film that coincidentally became an overnight success. Based on the 2003 New York Times best-selling book of the same name by Lauren Weisberger—arguably one of the best representations of the Chick-Lit genre—the film became a smash hit for a variety of reasons, but one in particular: it finally explained fashion to the rest of us, those outside the elaborate and expensive fantasy, while also inviting us to participate. Not only did Andrea Sachs evolve from the ignorant and unresourceful bystander to Fifth-Avenue fashionista, so did we. The storyline also portrayed two opposing males juxtaposed to Andrea’s world, pulling in our boyfriends, who noticeably began wearing darker fitted jeans, sexier cologne, and tight Calvin Klein underwear like the hot Christian (played by Simon Baker) probably wore once he took off that tiny towel, the morning after.

Before The Devil Wears Prada, fashion might have been synonymous with words like pretentiousness and snobbery, as it was often referred to in eccentric intangibles only an elite group of individuals—<cough> rich people—could understand and afford. Now, we all have joined the spectator sport—just Google “fashion over the centuries” or Coco Chanel and you’ll find terms like “modernist philosophy”, Art Noveau and the Victorian Era, while becoming overwhelmed with the history of movements occurring across the globe in urban areas like London, Vienna and New York City. Labels like vintage, and contemporary sums up progressive, and sometimes oppressive, sweeping moments in history, that included Expressionism, Cubism, our dear friend Picasso, World Wars I, and II.

While a few years old now, I mention this film because there were two really great monologues in The Devil Wears Prada that I often think about when referring to and trying to understand this crazy world of postmodern-day fashion. Unfortunately, sometimes these two monologues put me in a humble place and make me think about when I naively moved to Italy—Prada’s heartland—in 2003, and picked up Lauren Weisberger’s book, before it was a famous film. While I was trying to figure out how to live simply and buy affordable meals day-to-day to make my dreams of living in Europe my reality, these monologues made me think about a certain heir that I went to school with who bought a Prada skirts for 600 Euros. How could I be in classes with these people who are not in my class—totally déclassé I wondered? I hated them, and yet, I still wanted a 600 Euro Prada skirt too! Alas, I am only human. Have a look:

Fashion, while it has been here for centuries has finally arrived for the rest of us and we should aim to understand what Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) and Nigel (Stanley Tucci) meant with their monologues. Fashion today is absolutely created by “some of the greatest artists of the century,” as Nigel states, however, unlike centuries before, the great artists of our century are including the rest of us as their art can be purchased anywhere from designer boutiques down to the local “Casual Corner,” as Miranda Priestly states, or even online. Similarly, today fashion designers, and great artists are aspiring, friends-next-door, or even wordsmiths—as we often see T-shirts with catchy backwards slogans meant to be read in the mirror.

In the coming weeks we’ll hear from some of these friends-next-door like Gilbert Zarate Jr., a local graphic designer turned artist who’s featuring his own designs on American Apparel Tees, and Jonathan de la Garza, a successful broker/realtor whose Positive Pins are showing up on CEOs around town.

Photo by: Vancity Allie

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