Though THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA is set in the rarefied world of fashion, Andy's journey with Miranda is universal in its theme of a young person finding her way. "What happens to Andy is very character-forming," Hathaway says. "As she changes, she realizes it's important to commit not necessarily to success, but to succeed on your own terms."
A film about fashion and publishing could be shot nowhere but New York itself, the beating heart of the high fashion and publishing industries. "New York is the fashion capital of the world," Frankel says. "There isn't a city that is more fun or sexier than New York. You can't take a step without finding a great location. There is a history, a depth, a twinkliness."
"For Andy's story to be real, you need the real world," says Wendy Finerman. "You've got to be fighting on the subway and going across town while everybody else is going in the other direction. Then there is New York's romance and youthfulness; there are so many young people seeing the city for the first time, waiting to experience the world as an adult."
Andy is one of these young people, seeking to begin her life as an adult in the Big Apple. "Andy is full of excitement when she first moves to New York," Frankel says. "She must quickly learn the city's ins and outs in order to complete seemingly impossible tasks for Miranda. Any visitor to New York remembers the first time discovering the city. Like Miranda, New York is intimidating and it requires time and effort to understand how to function there."
Production designer Jess Gonchor created two contrasting worlds: Andy and Nate's simple home, and the ever-fabulous but treacherous orbit of Miranda Priestly. Runway's offices had to express Miranda's taste and insistence upon elegance and perfection. "The offices had to be very feminine and homey, and have a light color palette," Gonchor explains.
Streep and Gonchor together selected the artwork showcased in Miranda offices. "It was important to show photographs that Miranda had 'collected' and great works of art because she's all about the pursuit of excellence, no matter the cost," Frankel says.
In these suites, there is no question who is in charge. "There is not much separating Miranda from the rest of the office," Gonchor says. "She can always see who is coming and going."
Miranda keeps an eagle eye on her assistants, often confronting them with no warning. "David [Frankel] was adamant about that," says Gonchor. "Her staff is tucked away far enough that they don't see her coming."
The Runway interiors - including Miranda's office, the conference room, and the bull pen - were meticulously designed to express perfection, with lots of glass and exact angles.
Gonchor, Frankel and Finerman pored over fashion and architectural magazines, as well as layouts and blueprints of comparable real-life offices, to hit the right authentic design notes. "We put together a model and then took a look at it with a little lipstick camera to see what the angles were," Gonchor says. "We decided on what the footprint should look like and started building. It took three months to build it, wallpaper it, paint it and dress it."
Andy's apartment has none of the clean lines and expensive pieces of art that adorn Miranda's office. Andy's apartment is "furnished with stuff from flea markets, things I had in storage," Gonchor describes. "Nothing matches.
We aged down the walls quite a bit so the apartment had a down tone to it."
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA comes at a time of heightened interest in the runway scene. "Fashion is a universal interest now," says producer Wendy Finerman. "The new collections from Paris are seen on the Internet within hours of their unveiling. Then they're copied and knocked off around the world."
Fashion, says director David Frankel, is "a constant pursuit for reinvention. It's both what's so great and what's so awful about fashion. For fashion to succeed, it has to make all of us feel that everything we have and wear is inadequate."
"People love fashion," Streep says. "They love to look at it, in magazines, in runway shots…everything. But it's interesting to get a look inside this world, and see how much of a business it is, and where the fun is and where the fun stops."
Those in the business have few illusions about what they do. "Fashion Fabulousness" takes work and having a place at the cutting edge of trends requires not only vision but great ambition. "The movie doesn't have a judgment about the fashion world," says screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, who adapted Lauren Weisberger's best-selling novel. "We take the fashion seriously as a business and show it realistically."
For the film to create a realistic portrait of today's fashion giants, the costumes had to be authentic. "The way I made sure that we got the fashion right was to hire Patricia Field as our costume designer," Frankel says. Field, an Emmy® winner for her work on "Sex and the City," created a style for Streep's Miranda Priestly, as well as for Anne Hathaway's character's transformation into a fashionista, and the look of the omnipresent "Clackers."
Miranda's look had to stand on its own; no one else could look like her. Meryl Streep herself influenced aspects of Miranda's wardrobe. Field set out to dress "the leading fashion editor of the world - to create Miranda's look with Meryl. My job was to make Meryl look as absolutely beautiful as I could. Not to dictate fashion, but to have people say, 'Wow, Meryl Streep!'"
Legendary designer Valentino designed a dress Miranda wears at a ritzy charity ball. "Valentino created this dress for Meryl and in the end, it was the dress that she looked sexiest in," Field states. "It's very simple and shows her beautiful shoulders, her porcelain skin, and her curves."
Valentino also makes his acting debut in the film. "I'm such a great admirer of Ms. Streep," he says. "Just to have a little cameo with her, for me, is a great honor."
"Valentino was really a wonderful casting coup," Finerman says. "He is truly an icon. Having him in our film is an incredible opportunity because he's a face people know.
"The dresses for the gala were outrageous," Finerman continues, "and they're meant to be outrageous, of course. Everyone looked like they were going to a high society event, down to every last extra. Pat dressed everyone to the nines."
Frankel first collaborated with Field on the feature film "Miami Rhapsody," where her creative talent made a lasting impression on the director. "Pat had Sarah Jessica Parker wear certain things and I'd say, 'What is that?' Then two years later it would be everywhere. So I learned to trust her instincts. Pat is brilliant at seeing into the future of fashion, anticipating and making trends."
"Pat provided an authentic backdrop of fashion," Finerman says. "She was able to get us so many clothes for which we didn't have a budget. Chanel provided its 2006 couture collection to the production, exclusively. Field also magically produced designs from Valentino, Donna Karan, Bill Blass, Galliano, and, of course, Prada.
The cast was thrilled to work with Field, who functions as a fashion designer as well as a costume designer on her film projects. "The fact that Pat can take these disparate pieces of clothing and put them together to make them work brilliantly is incredible," says Stanley Tucci. "I spent more times in costume fittings than I did on the set."
"Pat Field called in many, many favors from her contacts in the fashion industry," Streep adds. "But she got it done. I'm not sure anyone realized how impossible that task was."
One of the most challenging aspects of the shoot was the styling of the up-to-the-minute Clackers. "We had a certain formula for dressing the Clackers as a group," says Field, "but I also wanted them to also have individualized looks."
Chief among the Clackers is Miranda's first assistant Emily, who is partially defined by her hairstyle. Hairstylist Angel DeAngelis-Halko felt the character should look as though she was "always trying something new, something different, even if it was slightly ridiculous," she says. "We were always trying to keep Emily's hair very red, very shiny, freshly cut and just beautiful." She adds, "It's all the newest, the latest, the greatest.
We just have to set the styles. People are looking for that as they open a magazine; they want to go into their fantasy world."
When we meet Andy, she gives little thought to her wardrobe. But through her experiences at Runway, she learns how to express herself through fashion. "In the beginning of the story, Andy resembles a girl who you'd see on the subway or who works as your neighbor's babysitter," says Hathaway. "So we shopped for costumes accordingly - we went to the mall."
"Andy starts out being dressed in an ordinary way," adds Field, "not ugly, not pretty, just ordinary. Then she realizes that she looks different from everyone else. That's when she gets the fashion bug."
As the story progresses, Andy's inner fashion diva emerges. "Her transformation doesn't change who she is," says Field. "The person is still the person. But she just learns to express herself in a more fashionable way."
Director David Frankel most recently directed the critically acclaimed HBO series "Entourage," for which he was nominated for an Emmy in 2005. Previously for HBO, he directed the hit show "Sex and the City," and "Band of Brothers," which won six Emmys, including Best Director. He also directed "The Pennsylvania Miners' Story" for ABC.
A comedy writer and director who paid his dues writing and producing TV sitcoms before making his feature film directorial debut with "Miami Rhapsody" (1995), which featured Sarah Jessica Parker as a woman who doesn't believe that any relationship or marriage can ever really work.
The son of Max Frankel, former executive editor and later columnist for The New York Times, Frankel toyed with becoming a political humorist. After graduation from Harvard, his first professional assignment was an article for Esquire about John McEnroe, the tennis star against whom Frankel had competed when they were in high school.
Frankel began writing for TV, breaking in with "The Ellen Burstyn Show," a short-lived ABC sitcom in 1986. Teaming with Norman Steinberg, he wrote, directed and was co-executive producer of the CBS sitcom "Doctor, Doctor" (1989-91). Starring Matt Frewer, the show revolved around an earnest but eccentric physician and earned critical applause even if a larger audience never found the show. In 1991, Frankel and Steinberg created "Teech," a short-lived CBS sitcom starring Phill Lewis as a music teacher. The following year, Frankel created, wrote and directed the critically well-received "Grapevine" (CBS), about relationships. (Reportedly one of the main characters, a Miami sportscaster, was based on Frankel's brother Jon).
With Steinberg, Frankel made the leap to the big screen in 1990 with "Funny About Love," which featured Gene Wilder as a cartoonist who wants to be a father. He went on to write "Nervous Ticks" (1993), about the life of a luggage handler at an airport. "Miami Rhapsody," which Frankel wrote, produced and directed, was made for a budget of $6 million. Its 1995 release was greeted warmly by critics. Frankel was back to TV for a spell in 1996, writing the busted pilot for an ABC sitcom starring Bebe Neuwirth called "Dear Diary," which was later released as a short film and earned the Oscar as Best Live Action Short.
Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna was born and raised in New Jersey. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and moved to New York after college where she wrote a book, magazine articles and several plays.
Since moving to Los Angeles, McKenna has written screenplays and several television pilots. Her latest feature was "Laws of Attraction," for New Line Cinema, starring Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan.
Other features currently in development include "Rich Girl" for Walt Disney Pictures, "27 Dresses" for Spyglass Pictures and "Father Knows Less" for New Line Cinema, all projects based on her original ideas. McKenna has also written screenplays for Universal, Columbia, and Intermedia and several screenplays for Warner Bros., including 1999's "Three To Tango" starring Matthew Perry and Neve Campbell.
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