The Devil Wears Prada, i.e. the film that is loathed by the people at American Vogue for portraying an ill-informed version of Anna Wintour – one could disagree – and her staff. Whilst it may not be the most poignant of films in the history of American cinema, some of the dialogue might actually hold some truth.
In the famous scene about contrasting shades of blue, Miranda Priestly explains to her assistant, Andy, that fashion is a part of everyone’s lives, even if they don’t want it to be/fails to realise it. She says, “‘This… stuff’? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.” Kudos to Meryl Streep for remembering all that and delivering it perfectly.
Fashion matters to the economy, our society and to us personally. As mentioned in the film, it is a multi-billion dollar industry that employs a plethora of professionals with varying roles which must mean we are buying into it, and have been for centuries. All of us make a conscious decision about what we clothe ourselves in so to inform the world of who we are and what we represent. We may be instructed to wear a certain colour or specific piece, but as individuals we wear it in different ways. Potentially, some people’s style may leave a lot to be desired, but it is still style, regardless. Fashion is the fastest form of self expression we have.
Some argue that there is a significant disparity between liking fashion and liking clothes, which is true – how many people can tell you the history of Dior’s Bar jacket? – but it all comes under the same category realistically. Fashion should be taken seriously just like any other creative profession such as acting or art.
And we shouldn’t have to explain to people that yes, fashion journalist, stylist, trend forecaster, etc, are all actual jobs.
So, next time someone tells you that they don’t care about fashion, just regurgitate Miranda Priestly’s monologue and watch the growing confusion on their face.