What the Devil Is She Wearing ?
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
Though it might make for a convenient title, the devil doesn’t always wear Prada.
Vogue magazine editor in chief Anna Wintour, whose likeness is a central character in the film “The Devil Wears Prada,” in fact wears quite a lot more. When Parsons the New School for Design threw a gala fashion show in honor of Oscar de la Renta recently, Ms. Wintour wore a black knee-length cocktail dress designed by Mr. de la Renta himself. The infamous editor wore a flower-embroidered Christian Dior couture dress with a long peach silk coat to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Ball last month. And she donned a blue silk Carolina Herrera cocktail dress to last fall’s big New Yorkers for Children benefit.
Indeed, for the most powerful fashion editor in the world, Ms.Wintour’s tastes are strict only in that she is always impeccably turned out. She has been photographed in Calvin Klein, Chanel (also a favorite of her fashionable daughter, Bee Shaffer), Gucci, and Vera Wang, among many others. Though she is often seen in prim cardigans and knee-length skirts, that’s by no means a uniform. She been spotted in a poncho – when rain forced the tents in Bryant Park to close in 1999 – and in jeans – to the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards in 2001.
“The Devil Wears Prada” – which will open in theaters Friday – is based on the best-selling novel by Lauren Weisberger, a former assistant to Ms.Wintour. The film is set at the fictional Runway magazine, a thinly – but stylishly – veiled version of Vogue. Ms. Wintour’s screen counterpart, played by Meryl Streep, wears power suits, expensive handbags, and high heels. Over the course of the film, the icy editor wears 60 costumes, including a black Prada suit. But the film’s costume designer, Patricia Field, has said she didn’t model Ms. Streep’s look on a particular person.
Ms. Field is best known for her work on “Sex and the City,” where cardigans and knee-length skirts (if they were seen at all) were paired with midriff-baring T-shirts and flashy costume jewelry. Ms. Field has toned it down a bit for the film, dressing Anne Hathaway, who plays Ms. Streep’s beleaguered assistant, in Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Calvin Klein, and Chanel. Several designers reportedly refused to lend their clothes to the film’s costume department for fear of offending Ms.Wintour,whose blessing in Vogue has made the reputations of many young designers including Zac Posen, Behnaz Sarafpour, and Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler.
So does Ms. Wintour ever actually wear Prada? Indeed, she does. She was seen in the Italian label at Carolina Herrera’s spring 2006 runway show. She wore extravagant gold Prada at Donald and Melania Trump’s wedding in Palm Beach last year. And in a display of good humor, she wore a black-and-white Prada dress to a May 23 special screening of the film.
But with all the top designers at her fingertips, it’s impossible to predict if she’ll continue to wear Prada. A spokesman for Vogue, Patrick O’Connell, said that her appearance at the screening a few weeks ago was “the extent of our comment” on the film. It’s easy to imagine that every time Ms. Wintour steps out in Prada in the future, it will be giggled about in the gossip pages. It might just be easier to purge her wardrobe. Wintour-watchers can count on one thing remaining constant, however: The sunglasses will always be Chanel.