When Lauren Weisberger first stepped out of the carry and on to the twelfth flooring of Conde Nast’s midtown constructing, the 22-year-old English graduate may have had no concept how extraordinary a flip her life was about to take.
Nor may she have identified that her new function as private assistant-cum-‘lackey’ to the best-dressed lady on this planet — Vogue editor Anna Wintour — would find yourself defining a complete cultural second.
Whereas there have been different office tell-alls, none of their authors has taken a job that concerned ‘faxing, submitting, getting espresso’ and preserving their boss’s life operating as easily as attainable, after which normal it right into a writing profession that’s given them a web price estimated at round £4 million.
The Satan Wears Prada was Lauren’s debut novel and have become an prompt bestseller on its publication in 2003. It offered round 13 million copies in 34 nations and spent a 12 months on the New York Occasions bestseller checklist. It was then adopted by successful movie starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, which grossed greater than £235 million on the field workplace and earned Streep an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of the flinty boss.
Lauren Weisberger, 44, (pictured) who lives in Connecticut, penned bestselling e-book The Satan Wears Prada after an 11-month stint as assistant to Vogue editor Anna Wintour
Now it’s set to grow to be a musical, with songs by none aside from Elton John.
‘It’s nearly essentially the most wonderful factor,’ says Lauren, talking to me from her house in Connecticut within the U.S. ‘One thing I may by no means have imagined.
‘When he first signed on to the challenge, Elton John and [his husband] David Furnish invited me to their lodge suite for tea and we had a beautiful chat. I used to be so nervous and shaking within the elevator on the best way up, however they couldn’t have been lovelier. They mentioned how a lot they cherished the e-book and cherished the film, so there’s my entire life proper there!’
Tony Award-winner Beth Leavel will play the redoubtable Miranda (the character primarily based on Anna Wintour), whereas Taylor Iman Jones will tackle the function of Andy Sachs (the character primarily based on Lauren) when the present premieres in Chicago subsequent 12 months. From there, it’s anticipated to maneuver on to Broadway and the West Finish.
And what of Anna Wintour herself? Has she raised any objections to changing into the all-singing ‘topic’ of a musical? ‘Properly, actually none that I do know of,’ says Lauren. ‘I do not know how she feels about it, however do you have to discover out,’ she laughs, ‘I do hope you’ll let me know.’
When Lauren first received the job at Vogue, there was treasured little to sing about. Contemporary out of New York State’s prestigious Cornell College (‘I simply despatched in an utility — I had no connections in any respect’), she went from an admittedly, ‘very privileged lifetime of learning and socialising and taking part in, to a job the place mainly I needed to present up in the midst of the night time and work what felt like 100 hours a day’.
‘On the time I felt: “That is the remainder of my life and till I retire, nevertheless many a long time from now, that is what work will appear to be!” It felt so oppressive and demoralising. All that noise and superstar and style apart, I simply keep in mind having a weirdly hopeless feeling. And I feel that’s a part of what folks associated to.’
The Satan Wears Prada tells the story of a small-town lady who lands the job as assistant to an editor of a top-selling New York style journal. Pictured: Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly
The Satan Wears Prada tells the story of Andy Sachs — a small-town lady who lands the job as assistant to Miranda Priestly, the whip-thin editor of top-selling New York style journal Runway, who’s by turns dazzlingly good, demanding and mercilessly merciless.
Thus far, so very chick lit. What makes the novel so absorbing, nevertheless, is the truth that Lauren wrote the e-book after an 11-month stint as assistant to Anna Wintour — the whip-thin editor of top-selling New York style journal Vogue, who’s by turns dazzlingly good, demanding and . . . nicely, you get the image.
Within the novel, Miranda units inconceivable duties after which shreds Andy for not finishing them. Whereas Lauren has at all times insisted that Miranda isn’t a point-by-point portrayal of her former boss, she does admit ‘a lot of the e-book was impressed by what I noticed at Vogue’.
There are scrumptious particulars, akin to Miranda tossing her coats on to unsuspecting desks, protected within the information that some minion will tidy them away; her dismissal of subordinates with an imperious, ‘That’s all’; and, after all, her magnificent put-downs (‘The main points of your incompetence,’ she tells Andy coldly at one level, ‘curiosity me little or no’).
The criticism was overwhelming. I most likely wouldn’t have written it if I had identified
She berates Andy for the tardy supply of her morning espresso, lambasts her selection of Excessive Avenue footwear (‘These sneakers will not be the message I’m seeking to convey’), insists her journey garments are packed in velvet and orders Andy to get copies of the brand new Harry Potter e-book for her children —earlier than it’s even on the cabinets.
Whereas Lauren has at all times insisted the e-book wasn’t a ‘take-down’ try, however merely a easy writing train following her enrolment in a artistic writing class after she had left Vogue, as soon as the e-book was revealed, all hell broke free — one thing she is now speaking about in depth for the primary time.
‘Outdoors of New York, I heard lots of feedback akin to: “Properly, I’ve a horrible boss too and that is what they did” and folks may relate to the e-book that manner,’ says Lauren.
‘However in New York, it was hyper-focused on: “Is it about Vogue? Is it about Anna Wintour?” There was lots of warmth and I used to be not ready for something. [The publisher] will need to have identified it was coming, however nobody shared it with me. They had been like: “You’re going to go on a three-week tour — right here’s what you must say, right here’s what you shouldn’t say and right here’s what is going to kill you in case you do say it. Good luck!”
Lauren admits she most likely would not have written The Satan Wears Prada, if she had identified concerning the consideration and criticism she would face. Pictured: Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep within the hit movie
‘I went into it considering, wow, my mother and father will have the ability to purchase my novel in a bookstore, but it surely was a a lot larger occasion than I had ever anticipated.’
In Wintour’s New York fiefdom, the reception was brutal, with many critics branding it a piece of ‘boss betrayal’.
The New York Occasions excoriated the novel, not solely labelling it ‘a mean-spirited Gotcha! of a e-book’ on its publication, however doubling again and reversing over Lauren once more when the movie was launched in 2006, by referring to it as her ‘whiny hiss-and-tell bestseller’.
The eye and criticism, particularly for a debut author, ‘undoubtedly at occasions felt overwhelming’, Lauren admits, ‘and fairly actually, I most likely wouldn’t have written it if I’d identified.’
Even worse, maybe, was the deafening silence from Vogue headquarters; regardless of the publicity the e-book was receiving, not a single Conde Nast publication talked about it.
But the novel was so fashionable, when Anna Wintour agreed to be the topic of a 2009 documentary known as The September Subject, capturing the real-life occasions of U.S. Vogue, it was rumoured she solely did so to offset the repute she had acquired since The Satan Wears Prada’s launch.
Lauren mentioned she does not actually thoughts that the novel was criticised, whereas the movie adaptation was praised by everybody. Pictured: Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt within the film
Has Lauren seen or heard from Wintour because the novel’s publication? ‘No, I haven’t,’ she replies, in a tone that means this has brought on her to lose little sleep. Has anybody from Vogue secretly advised Lauren that they cherished her e-book? ‘Sure, some folks have advised me that. And never in secret both,’ she provides
One ex-colleague of Lauren’s, nevertheless, wasn’t so complimentary. Andre Leon Talley, the journal’s former artistic director and editor-at-large, not too long ago criticised The Satan Wears Prada as being a ‘gossipy, nasty tell-all’ (earlier than promptly occurring to state in his personal 2020 memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, that Anna Wintour was incapable of ‘easy human kindness’).
He additionally famous that Anna, in contrast to Miranda, would by no means slash her coat round ‘like some unhealthy child orca’. Lauren insists: ‘A lot of my e-book was impressed by what I noticed at Vogue, however what was precisely true and what was exaggerated for leisure and fiction has been blurred because the years have gone on for certain.
‘Andre was at all times completely pretty to me once I labored there — very pleasant, upbeat and outgoing. However I used to be mainly like furnishings in Anna’s workplace, most likely like many of the assistants.’
But, whereas the novel was criticised, the movie adaptation was praised by everybody, together with Andre and even Anna herself, who after seeing the film described it as ‘actually entertaining’. Wasn’t that one thing of a double commonplace on their half?
‘Properly, I don’t actually thoughts,’ says Lauren. ‘I wrote the e-book for the readers and for it to be a enjoyable glimpse into this loopy world [of fashion]. And I really feel an countless debt of gratitude in direction of that point and in direction of that e-book.’
Lauren (pictured), who lives along with her husband and their two kids, has simply written her eighth novel, The place The Grass Is Inexperienced
She works from her house in Connecticut, which she shares along with her husband, author and photographer Mike Cohen, and their ten-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son. At 44, she is fresh-faced and wearing denims, a turtleneck and trainers.
‘Let’s simply say that, in contrast to Andy, there was no closet makeover in my actual life,’ she laughs.
She has simply written her eighth novel, The place The Grass Is Inexperienced, an entertaining story of two sisters — Peyton Marcus, anchor of the most-watched morning present in New York Metropolis, and Skye, a stay-at-home suburban mum.
Each are hiding secrets and techniques which can blow these lives aside: in Skye’s case, a mountain of debt; in Peyton’s, her attainable involvement in a university admissions bribery scandal on behalf of her daughter, Max.
Lauren peppers the novel along with her usually eager observations of America’s wealthy and useless. There may be additionally a personality with crimson hair, soulful eyes and an attractive beard — ‘all very paying homage to Prince Harry’, proving that he does a minimum of have one fan left on the market.
‘I don’t completely perceive the entire dynamic of monarchy,’ says Lauren apologetically, ‘however as an off-the-cuff royal-watcher and fan, I nonetheless like Harry very a lot.’
Lauren’s background was, by her personal admission, resolutely regular. Rising up in Pennsylvania, it was the type of place the place, ‘we knew all of our neighbours and I went to soccer video games on Friday night time’. So transferring to New York was a severe shock to the system.
Lauren (pictured) mentioned many individuals may relate to her characters in The Satan Wears Prada on the time of its launch, however perhaps issues are lastly altering
Since Lauren’s stint at Vogue within the late-Nineteen Nineties, nevertheless, a lot has modified — and even Anna, the seemingly impervious editor-in-chief, has not too long ago confronted some warmth of her personal.
Final 12 months in an e mail to employees she acknowledged that ‘Vogue has not discovered sufficient methods to raise and provides area to black editors, writers, photographers, designers and different creators’, apologising and taking ‘full duty’ for errors made throughout her 33-year reign.
So, with the rising perception that bosses should be held extra accountable for his or her behaviour, does Lauren lastly really feel vindicated in writing The Satan Wears Prada?
‘I don’t know if I really feel vindicated, or if I used to be essentially making a case, but when I did have a case to make it might actually be that there are many corporations and companies — and there have been again then, too — which might be run by human beings who care about their staff.’ She provides: ‘So many individuals then may relate to the monster boss theme, however perhaps much less so now. Possibly issues are lastly altering.’
Is she saying, then, that Anna was a little bit of a bully? Lauren laughs. ‘That’s your phrase, not mine, however demanding and exacting — no query about that. However you recognize what? She’s a cultural icon. She’s been on the helm of this world-recognised journal — and a few would say on the helm of this entire trade — for many years now. And there’s excellent purpose for that, as a result of she’s very gifted.’
Whereas there’s each chance that nothing she writes will fairly have the affect of her first e-book, Lauren loves the truth that ‘there’s an entire new technology of women discovering it’. And a few, after all, will now achieve this by means of the medium of track and dance.
Musical theatre has seen some superb feminine divas — Norma Desmond in Sundown Boulevard, Roxie Hart in Chicago, Humorous Lady’s Fanny Brice. Miranda Priestly might but show essentially the most devilish of all of them.
WHERE The Grass Is Inexperienced, by Lauren Weisberger, (£12.99, HarperCollins) is out on Thursday.