If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want it spoiled for you, don’t read below the fold. Judging from the other reviews I’ve read, the movie I saw was an entirely different film. Have you seen it? This is my take on it from the apparel industry vs Hollywood perspective. I didn’t dislike it but it wasn’t very accurate. The most glaring and obvious error was that nobody was smoking. I don’t think I saw a single cigarette. In real life, fashion and cigarettes go together like needles and thread. How could the film maker missed something so obvious? Surely they toured a work room or two. Reweavers are still in business for a reason, and as everybody knows, the traditional way to trim fraying threads is from the burning ember of a butt. But did the film get any of that? No it did not so you know it’s fake.
Briefly, Meryl Streep plays Miranda, the fashion editor at a magazine called Runway (Miranda is the aforementioned devil). Anne Hathaway (Andi) is a recent journalism grad who gets a job as Miranda’s assistant.
In the movie, Miranda is shown previewing a fashion line (pre-launch) and giving it a thumbs down and it’s explained that the fashion designer will start the line over from scratch, overnight no less. In real life, this is sheer fantasy. First, fashion editors do not preview and approve lines. In fact, Balenciaga banned reporters or editors until customers had reviewed the lines for a month. A fashion designer is not going to scrap their line on the eve of fashion week and start over based on the say so of a fashion editor. Second, if anything, a fashion editor will find something nice to say because designers are -first and foremost- customers! Fashion houses buy a lot of ad space in fashion magazines. Sure, if you have a good PR company and you’re currently hot, you can get some editorial for free. Editorial means the magazine writes a feature article about you and your product line but these stories are lined up at least six months in advance. Fashion editors will find something to compliment because the designer is an ad buying customer and the value of an editor -from the shareholder’s perspective- always comes down to total ad revenues.
In the movie, Andi is a fashion neophyte who gets free clothes from the magazine’s wardrobe. In real life, fashion magazines do not have large repositories of designer fashions that they store. If a designer gets some editorial, the magazine will get some styles as loaners but they can’t keep them. In fact, any number of product stylers will tell you they must buy the garments before they can take them from a store. It’s pre-arranged that the styler can return the garments after the shoot but they must be paid for before they leave the store (and returned in like new condition). They must pay for them so the store can ensure the products will be returned. Samples are expensive and haute couture no less so. Fashion magazines don’t have couture garments warehoused. In other words, Andi wasn’t getting clothes from Runway’s in house style library. Long story short, you don’t have to worry that you’ll need to make enough samples to donate them to whichever fashion magazine.
I found Andi’s friends to be a bit arrogant and judgmental, in part accusing of her of “selling out” just because she started dressing better. As with many careers, being appropriately dressed comes with the territory -not that I’d want her job of course. But still, if she went to work in a bank, she’d have to wear a suit. I can dress like a slob in my own shop and how I choose to represent myself is my own problem but the minute you accept a job and paycheck, your employer has every right to expect you to dress the part that the job entails. Why would it be any different in fashion? However, in real life, fashion workers are more likely to dress like Andi and her friends than not. We dress terribly. I’m assuming the magazine people dress better, I’d guess they have to. I’m glad somebody dresses better than we do or else more of us would be out of a job. Thank goodness for that.
Andi got a lot of flack from her friends over the number of hours she worked and her abysmal pay. Those are two things the movie did get right; any career in fashion is incredibly demanding. It doesn’t pay well; the average designer only makes about $40,000 a year so an assistant will get a whole lot less than that. The hours can be excruciating, the deadlines never end, so yeah, you’ll put in a lot of hours. At one point in the film, Andi quits her job -without notice- she felt entitled to do so owing to the pay and the hours but in my opinion, Andi was the one who acted unprofessionally by quitting without notice. Miranda wasn’t asking Andi to work hours that she herself was not putting in. It comes with the territory. You work a lot of hours, you make dirt and if you don’t like it, you should put in your two weeks notice but nobody is abusing you. It’s nothing personal, it’s the same for everybody else. If Miranda were the demon she was portrayed to be (not that I’d want to work for her), she wouldn’t have given Andi a good job recommendation.
Miranda wore a fur coat every day. I wonder how much the Fur Designers of America paid for that placement. Contrary to the film’s depiction, wearing fur is becoming more un-cool every day (hence their need to promote their side of the industry). Since I’m not in the practice of monitoring what fashion editors wear daily, I can’t say how often they wear fur coats but I’d guess it’s a lot less than ever. Even in fashion, fur is becoming increasingly repugnant so you don’t need to run out and buy a fur coat or even covet them. Still, I imagine people will cease wearing furs the day that everybody stops eating red meat, running red lights and smoking.
The behavior of Emily (Miranda’s other assistant) was a caricature portrayal; it’s been a long time since I’ve seen cattiness like that. In fact, I haven’t seen cattiness like that since I was in design school. In other words, while this behavior may have made for good theatre (questionable), this isn’t real life. In real life, only amateurs act like that. Students and wannabes act like that. The more accomplished and professional one is, the less catty one is. It doesn’t make you look professional, it confirms your amateur status. Cattiness -in any industry- is never becoming. If you act like that in real life, they’ll throw you out on your bum.
Minor detail; it’s not true that they’re shooting clothes in size 0’s. It is true that they prefer nothing larger than a size 6, particularly for flats. Anything bigger than a size 6 looks too wide for photography. I mention this in case you need to send out loaners for photo shoots because this can present a problem for a lot of you. You’re making up samples in 8’s or 10’s but you need 6’s (or 4’s) for flat photography. Bummer no?
In summary, I think the integrity of the film is questionable if for no other reason than the absence of cigarettes. What kind of industry consultant did the film makers hire? In real life, there’d be ash trays everywhere. DH reminds me Yves St. Laurent smoked 7 packs a day, Balenciaga was good for 4, Chanel was wrinkly for more than her tan -so you know the movie was fake.