There’s a poignant scene in “The Devil Wears Prada” where Miranda interviews Andrea for a job, and Andy implies fashion as a whole is essentially inapplicable to her.
Miranda, in full boss mode, sets out to correct Andy with the most epic, overwhelmingly enlightening rant of the entire movie –
“This stuff’? Oh, ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh 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. You’re also blindly unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it 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 so 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.”
Back when this movie first came out, I watched this scene from my spot next to my friends in the middle of the movie theatre completely captivated. The rant was easily my favourite part of the film, and still is to this day.
I adored the explaination, though not because of any sort of obsession I had with fashion at the time. On the contrary, I more closely identified with Andy’s sentiments about fashion being irrelevant to her at that point in my life.
Yet in this gem of a scene, Miranda’s character carefully pulled back the drawstrings on the massive industry that is fashion. Was it shocking or surprising in any way? Of course not. But the behind-the-scenes of the big enchilada was something I’d never really thought about until that moment.
Decades have passed and I’m fully aware of how much more I now think about what goes on behind the scenes of the fashion industry.
And it’s not just me. The world at large is more aware of what happens behind the curtain these days, substantially more than it had been as I was growing up in the 90s.
I feel a huge part of the reason is down to the rise of social media influencers. They share their lives more openly with their viewers than anyone in the industry would ever bother to do. Social media influencers freuqently over-share any and all experiences they have in the fashion world, allowing us a good solid look instead of a peek behind the curtain into an incredibly fasinating world.
Of course, these days, it’s also more common to see glympses of some of the more interesting bits and pieces of what happens behind the curtain of the fashion world by the fashion industry. Say on the Vogue YouTube channel, or on TV shows like Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model. Obviously, media like these are so hyper-selective, showing you only one particular angle that reflects fashion in a highly appealing light, they’re very far from reality. Still, they allow us a bit more understanding of this world that we in the past hadn’t had.
There’s also the matter of the scandals in public press where journalists have shed light on the highly questionable ethical practices massive clothing organizations take part in on the regular. This angle, although completely different, helps us see behind the glitz and glamour into full heartbreaking, gritty underbelly the fashion world.
Whether or not we care to be, we’re always have been and always will be impacted – directly and indirectly – by this bohemoth of an industry.
From fashion’s infuence on social norms and ideals of beauty, to it’s ability to help us mold our personal identities, to it’s ability to connect us together in some way with small groups, trends, cultures, and masses at large – fashion is ever prevalent in our lives, even if we try to opt out.
There is no opting out, really. You’re making a choice every time.
And back to that glorious Miranda quote – even if you are “trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back” – you’re opting to put on clothing that does that, using fashion and your own personal style to try to deny the foibles of fashion are applicable to you.
Ironic? Indeed. So you might as well embrace it.