A decade after The Devil Wears Prada made Lauren Weisberger an overnight publishing success, magazine tyrant Miranda and her lowly assistant are back, Hannah Stephenson catches up with the American author.
Having just taken part in a ‘stiletto strut’ with 36 other women in canary yellow mile-high shoes to promote her new novel, Revenge Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger looks relieved to have changed into soft, beige ballet pumps.
It’s 10 years since the author rose to fame with her debut novel, The Devil Wears Prada, loosely based on her 10-month stint at Vogue magazine as an assistant to editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
The book, an instant New York Times bestseller, sold four million copies, was translated into 40 languages and became a hit movie in 2006, starring Meryl Streep as the icy, impossibly demanding Runway editor Miranda Priestly, and Anne Hathaway as her put-upon assistant Andy Sachs.
Unsurprisingly, Weisberger, who made a mint out of her satirical slant on the fickle world of fashion, doesn’t have a wardrobe full of designer labels and haute couture pieces.
“I do have one pair of fluorescent orange Jimmy Choos, which were as expensive as they are uncomfortable,” the 36-year-old says.
She says she doesn’t really follow fashion. “I’ve never bought anything from Prada, for me, in my entire life. In terms of Chanel, Gucci, the really crazy high-end stuff? That’s not my thing, but I love buying clothes as much as the next girl. In New York I head for department stores like Bloomingdales and Saks. I do Gap and I love Toms shoes.”
After the mammoth success of the first Prada book, she did feel pressure when writing the second.
“I’ve never written a sequel but it gave me the best of both worlds. You keep the characters you know, so you’re not faced with a blank, terrifying screen, you get the creative part of filling in the lapsed time. It was fun for me and a new challenge.”
Did the characters created by Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt in the film influence her writing second time around?
“I thought about Emily, not the other two. There was something about her performance, the attitude, the accent, the great one-liners... I envisaged her when I wrote the sequel.”
In it, we find Andy and her one-time Runway colleague Emily as unlikely friends and business partners in a hit bridal magazine called The Plunge.
As the magazine goes from strength to strength, monstrous Miranda Priestly, who has now become editorial director of fictional publishing house Elias-Clark, turns up wanting to buy them out.
Simultaneously, Andy marries Max, the dashing head of a big media company, and has a child, so life for her changes beyond recognition. But things never turn out as planned.
Miranda is just as monstrous in the sequel, but Weisberger says she’s never crossed paths with Wintour, the woman so harshly parodied in her pages.