When Lauren Weisberger first stepped out of the carry and on to the twelfth ground of Conde Nast’s midtown constructing, the 22-year-old English graduate might have had no thought how extraordinary a flip her life was about to take.
Nor might she have recognized that her new function as private assistant-cum-‘lackey’ to the best-dressed girl on the earth — Vogue editor Anna Wintour — would find yourself defining a whole 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 conserving their boss’s life working 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 instantaneous bestseller on its publication in 2003. It offered round 13 million copies in 34 nations and spent a 12 months on the New York Instances bestseller checklist. It was then adopted by a success 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 ebook The Satan Wears Prada after an 11-month stint as assistant to Vogue editor Anna Wintour
Now it’s set to change into a musical, with songs by none apart from Elton John.
‘It’s nearly probably the most wonderful factor,’ says Lauren, talking to me from her house in Connecticut within the U.S. ‘One thing I might by no means have imagined.
‘When he first signed on to the undertaking, 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 way in which up, however they couldn’t have been lovelier. They mentioned how a lot they cherished the ebook and cherished the film, so there’s my complete life proper there!’
Tony Award-winner Beth Leavel will play the redoubtable Miranda (the character based mostly on Anna Wintour), whereas Taylor Iman Jones will tackle the function of Andy Sachs (the character based mostly 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? ‘Nicely, definitely none that I do know of,’ says Lauren. ‘I don’t 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 bought 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 finding out and socialising and taking part in, to a job the place principally 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, nonetheless many many years from now, that is what work will appear like!” It felt so oppressive and demoralising. All that noise and celeb and style apart, I simply bear in mind having a weirdly hopeless feeling. And I believe that’s a part of what individuals 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, nonetheless, is the truth that Lauren wrote the ebook 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 unimaginable 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 ebook was impressed by what I noticed at Vogue’.
There are scrumptious particulars, reminiscent of Miranda tossing her coats on to unsuspecting desks, secure within the data that some minion will tidy them away; her dismissal of subordinates with an imperious, ‘That’s all’; and, in fact, 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 recognized
She berates Andy for the tardy supply of her morning espresso, lambasts her selection of Excessive Avenue footwear (‘These footwear should not 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 ebook for her children —earlier than it’s even on the cabinets.
Whereas Lauren has at all times insisted the ebook 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 ebook was revealed, all hell broke unfastened — one thing she is now speaking about in depth for the primary time.
‘Outdoors of New York, I heard a whole lot of feedback reminiscent of: “Nicely, I’ve a horrible boss too and that is what they did” and other people might relate to the ebook that method,’ says Lauren.
‘However in New York, it was hyper-focused on: “Is it about Vogue? Is it about Anna Wintour?” There was a whole lot of warmth and I used to be not ready for something. [The publisher] should have recognized it was coming, however nobody shared it with me. They have been like: “You’re going to go on a three-week tour — right here’s what it’s best to say, right here’s what you shouldn’t say and right here’s what is going to kill you for those who do say it. Good luck!”
Lauren admits she most likely would not have written The Satan Wears Prada, if she had recognized 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 dad and mom will be capable of purchase my novel in a bookstore, nevertheless it changed into a a lot greater 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 Instances excoriated the novel, not solely labelling it ‘a mean-spirited Gotcha! of a ebook’ 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 recognized.’
Even worse, maybe, was the deafening silence from Vogue headquarters; regardless of the publicity the ebook was receiving, not a single Conde Nast publication talked about it.
But the novel was so standard, when Anna Wintour agreed to be the topic of a 2009 documentary referred to as The September Subject, capturing the real-life occasions of U.S. Vogue, it was rumoured she solely did so to offset the fame 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 precipitated her to lose little sleep. Has anybody from Vogue secretly informed Lauren that they cherished her ebook? ‘Sure, some individuals have informed me that. And never in secret both,’ she provides
One ex-colleague of Lauren’s, nonetheless, wasn’t so complimentary. Andre Leon Talley, the journal’s former artistic director and editor-at-large, just lately 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 dangerous child orca’. Lauren insists: ‘A lot of my ebook 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 after I labored there — very pleasant, upbeat and outgoing. However I used to be principally 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 normal on their half?
‘Nicely, I don’t actually thoughts,’ says Lauren. ‘I wrote the ebook for the readers and for it to be a enjoyable glimpse into this loopy world [of fashion]. And I really feel an infinite debt of gratitude in direction of that point and in direction of that ebook.’
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 is able to blow these lives aside: in Skye’s case, a mountain of debt; in Peyton’s, her attainable involvement in a school 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’s additionally a personality with crimson hair, soulful eyes and a horny beard — ‘all very harking back to Prince Harry’, proving that he does at the very least 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 sort 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 critical shock to the system.
Lauren (pictured) mentioned many individuals might relate to her characters in The Satan Wears Prada on the time of its launch, however possibly issues are lastly altering
Since Lauren’s stint at Vogue within the late-Nineties, nonetheless, a lot has modified — and even Anna, the seemingly impervious editor-in-chief, has just lately confronted some warmth of her personal.
Final 12 months in an e-mail to workers she acknowledged that ‘Vogue has not discovered sufficient methods to raise and provides house to black editors, writers, photographers, designers and different creators’, apologising and taking ‘full accountability’ 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 definitely be that there are many firms and companies — and there have been again then, too — which can be run by human beings who care about their staff.’ She provides: ‘So many individuals then might relate to the monster boss theme, however possibly 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 already know 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 complete trade — for many years now. And there’s excellent purpose for that, as a result of she’s very proficient.’
Whereas there’s each risk that nothing she writes will fairly have the affect of her first ebook, Lauren loves the truth that ‘there’s a complete new era of ladies discovering it’. And a few, in fact, will now achieve this by the medium of tune and dance.
Musical theatre has seen some superb feminine divas — Norma Desmond in Sundown Boulevard, Roxie Hart in Chicago, Humorous Woman’s Fanny Brice. Miranda Priestly could but show probably the most devilish of all of them.
WHERE The Grass Is Inexperienced, by Lauren Weisberger, (£12.99, HarperCollins) is out on Thursday.