Stepping out into the big bad fashion world…
When Meryl Streep first stepped onto our screens as Magazine Editor Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, millions of aspiring fashion writers were chuckling away nervously, silently telling themselves “It’s not really like that, is it?”
The sheer suggestion that the magazine industry could be so ruthless, so scarce and so fatist, was almost enough to keep even the strongest, most level-headed individual from pursuing such a cut-throat career.
However behind all the chuckling and denial lies that reluctant acknowledgement of just how scary the industry may be. Although Andrea Sachs, played by the beautiful wide-eyed Anne Hathaway, ends up achieving her ultimate goal by the end of the film, there is no doubt that many magazine assistants in reality, just cannot sustain the extreme pressure put upon them by demanding (and somewhat terrifying) editors.
I can picture the number of fashion wannabes, sitting with a frozen smile upon their faces, secretly terrified at the possibility receiving such humiliating treatment from a boss. Hathaway’s character offered the perfect example of a self-assured writer, looking to get their foot in the door merely to gain experience that would hopefully lead them to a more self-fulfilling position.
Most young writer’s who have started off naively and over enthusiastically, will no doubt be able to recognise themselves in Andrea at the start of the film. Certain that she will never become like her superficial peers, sweater wearing Andrea Sachs starts off the way most aspiring writer’s do, fully concentrated on the end results.
Andrea goes to help herself to some Broccoli and Stilton soup in the cafeteria, but is soon shuffled away from it by Runway’s Art Director, uber camp Nigel, who tells her the key ingredient in it is ‘cellulite.’ However as the plot begins to unfold, we soon see Andrea soon conforming to the lollipop-headed, designer-clothing clad, work-obsessed employee like the rest of Runway magazine.
Andrea is subjected to continuous put-downs and criticism from cold Miranda, who’s bizarre and humiliating treatment of Andrea causes her to almost have a nervous breakdown. In the hope of getting the job of her dreams at another newspaper, Andrea continues on, losing her boyfriend, friends and vulnerability along the way.
Although the film is supposed to be a light-hearted account of the day-to-day life of a magazine assistant, it will come as no surprise to many other long-suffering fashionista’s, who have given up their lives in the hope of making it as a successful journalist. As far-fetched as it may seem, The Devil Wears Prada is in fact, reality. The success of a magazine relies on the editor, who is indebted to being as ruthless and harsh as possible.
Perhaps the success of Lauren Weisberger’s best-selling novel, remade into a multi-million pound selling film, could be finger-pointed at the popularity and curiosity of such a career. Apparently stemmed from Weisberger’s time working as Assistant to Anna Wintour, Editor of American Vogue, the success of the novel was all too surreal for Weisberger, who will now probably be sitting comfortably in her luxury home, thinking how glad she was to have let off some much-needed steam.
I recall reading the novel at 17-years-old, unable to put it down, savouring every page of in-depth information of how the magazine industry works. However fast forward almost four years, having graduated and hoping to step out into the big bad world myself, I wish the book had come along with some sort of manual, or even tips on how to get my foot in there in the first place.
A career almost every girl dreams of (as often reminded within the film), to work in a fashion magazine is one of the most sought after careers today. It is not the pressure I fear when it comes to working in a fast-paced, highly critical environment, but rather the competition that awaits me in my bid to get there.
As I attempt to claw my way there, for any editors out there incapable of fetching their own lattes, I’d be more than happy to oblige. Unlike Andrea Sachs, I understand the difference between cerulean blue and ordinary blue.
Although a sometimes catty and outlandish industry, there is no doubt it is a glamorous one. One where I’d be happy to exchange a few boiling hot coffee’s for some Mulberry freebies.
So off I go, Elle magazine and a coffee in hand, adamant that I will eventually earn my place somewhere within the magazine industry. It’s going to be a tough journey, but one day perhaps I’ll be the one sitting in that Editors chair, furtively sifting my way through a range of competitors issues, collectively gathering ideas on how my magazine can do better.
One thing I know is I won’t be too harsh on my assistant. And I certainly won’t be ordering a Latte. I prefer Caramel Macciato’s, skimmed.