Saturday, October 07, 2006

GIVE THE DEVIL ITS DUE








I had heard of Gucci,Armani,Versace. Prada? No,I hadn't heard of it. The title of this movie baffled me. I checked with my friend r who told me about brand Prada. (Incidentally, last night I learnt that h wears Prada spectacles!) And I wondered why should a devil make a fashion statement. Not only carry a Prada handbag but also wear a Dennis Basso furcoat! Intrigued, I decided to see this movie.THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA.

The DNA carried a newsitem the same morning of how overcoats were flying off the shelves in Mumbai though there was no sight of winter anywhere around. Burberry's overcoat collection had been sold out, said Dushyant Thakker,the store manager at the Taj. And the Mango spokesperson said that international fashion trends catch up in Mumbai very fast triggered by the fall-winter collections shown in the movies. George Bernard Shaw was absolutely spot-on when he said that fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic. And we have that epidemic currrently raging in Mumbai with the noveaux riche and the upperclass competing with each other to wear a Lewin's Kelly greenwool overcoat with lepoard cowl collar and cuffs, a Gucci skirt ,a tank top, Gieuseppe Zanotti coppersnake embossed pumps and Chanel sunglasses. Why? Because Anne Hathaway wears all this.

'The Devil Wears Prada' is a faithful adaptation from the best selling novel of the same name written by Lauren Weisberger who worked as an assitant at 'Vogue', a New York fashion magazine. She exploited the experience she gained over a period of about a year working for Anna Wintour,Editor of the 'Vogue'. Sort of a revenge on the boss, it portrays something deep about powerful women and how terrifying they are. It was generally seen as a gossippy 'roman a clef' about Vogue magazine and its iconic editor.

Meryl Streep plays fashion tastemaker Miranda Priestly. Looking perfect from top to bottom requires a head turning coiffure.Her wavy white hair conveys position,determination and decisiveness and style. As editor in chief of 'Runway' magazine, Miranda has to look impeccable at all times. In one particular montage in which she keeps on tossing her purse and overcoat over the desk of Andy Sachs(Anne Hathway) her new assistant, Meryl Streep is brilliant. She had to portray an exacting,ambitious,demanding and very disciplined person.She does that with elan. In an interview to a columnist she is reported to have said that actually she can be quite lazy. "Underpreparation is sometimes good as it instils fear.If you are prepared and think you are ready,you are not ready!" Many years ago I saw her in 'Kramer vs Kramer' and 'Sophie's Choice'. Her acting was par excellence in both these films and if I remember right she got an Academy award for her acting in 'Kramer vs Kramer'.

Andy Sachs(Anne Hathaway), a fresher from college and from a small town gets the job "a million girls would die for". As the high profile Miranda Priestly's assistant this naive girl finds herself in an office reverberating with the chanting of Prad,Armani,Versace. Life in the office and ouside becomes hell for her. She has to cope with her boss's extravagant,condescending and capricious demands. She has to send the latest and not- in- stores Harry Potter to Miranda's children in Paris by private jet,serve lattes to Miranda at exactly the right temperature that she prefers,run down and stand in line at Starbucks to get her a cappucino and if she is working upto 2am deliver the drycleaning at her home. After all that Miranda excoriates Anna for not doing her job properly. She acts as a slave and a coat rack for her boss all with the hope that a recommendation from Miranda will get her a top job at a New York magazine of her choosing. At the end of it Andy realizes that the job is indeed not worth the price of her soul. Her concerned midwestern father is shocked that his daughter is in the office till 2am even though she is only an assistant.He cannot fathom as to why her boss calls her during dinner and why she has chosen to pick a job in Runway.

It is an excellent comedy,superbly directed and produced. It is a witty expose of New york's fashion scene.The chick lit is slick and targetted specifically at youthful fashion conscious feminine audience.The breezy entertainer shows wicked workplace politics at its worst. Stanly Tucci and Emily Blunt put in bright performances in supporting roles.There is a view though that Dvevil Wears Prada provides an inaccurate view of the fashion industry. Any stylish editrix would be carried away probably more by Chloe,Marni,Marc Jacobs or Rochas. Patricia Field,the savvy costume designer has done a great job,I think. But then some feel that gold chains,embroidered jackets,knee-high boots are not what editors really wear and that they are made to look like art assemblages.

Clothing maketh a man.Shall we say in this case,a woman? Clothing has a talismanic quality about it. A power that transforms a person. Wear a smart suit,put on a pair of stylish heels and you are on top of the world! Mind you,the hem of the skirt can make you or mar you.The choice is yours. It is all about dressing up, baby!