Fashion novel is ‘devilishly’ entertaining

Genevieve Giambanco

Imagine fondling clothes all day, strutting into a workplace where the dress code consists of sky-high stilettos and the office emergency is a chipped, untended manicure. Think thin, tall and chic, Diet Coke and cigarettes, or rather the stylish world of working at a fashion magazine – the job a million girls would die for. Welcome to author Lauren Weisberger’s fictitious world of fashionably loud literature, this summer’s literary blockbuster, “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Weisberger delivers a bubbly, strictly-fun, so-much-nonsense novel that grabs you by your empire-waistline and tops all your guilty-pleasure reading. Trendy, yet intelligently written, “Prada” catwalks through an empathetic plot fixating on main character, Andrea Sachs, and the label-dropping world she is catapulted into. Andrea and the fashion world rendezvous through the highs and lows of fitting in among an office of fashionistas and the struggle of maintaining her non-designer life.

New college graduate Andrea beams with young enthusiasm as she’s ready to take her talented writing and head to the big apple. Dreaming of becoming a city-savvy writer for “The New Yorker,” Andrea sets realistic sights, dropping a flurry of resumes anywhere and everywhere, hoping to end up somewhere in the publishing world. When she receives an interview from top fashion magazine “Runway,” for the enviable position of personal assistant to editor in chief Miranda Priestly, she accepts it blindly, excited to start so high on the publishing totem pole – even if she has little to no interest in fashion. Andrea contemplates her new job as assistant to the most powerful woman in fashion, kicks back her worries and thinks, piece of cake.

Little does Andrea realize that working at “Runway” means you can’t have your cake or eat anything, too! She finds herself amid a cult following of die-hard calorie counters and working for the most intolerable, impossibly sadistic boss. Suddenly, her conservative suit and J.Crew loafers don’t cut it, as walking to her office desk subjects her to the relentless scrutiny of disapproving looks from her scantily-dressed, model-esque co-workers. Her lack of designer knowledge leaves her ensembly-challenged and labeled the office outsider.

On top of Andrea’s fashion angst, she’s sent aimlessly through Manhattan to satisfy the outrageous and inane requests of the loathed Miranda Priestly. Suddenly, tracking down vague antique furniture and finding that skirt seems less like the perfect job and more like an endless telepathic quest. Juggling her look, job, boyfriend, family and her best friend seems like the typical out-of-college, first-job torment that sets up Andrea’s plot against a fashionably glorious scene.

“Prada” leaves no detail of Andrea’s life unturned, dragging us through the emotional whimsies of a weak character that strengthens the fibers of her mohair jacket by meeting the challenging requests that being a “Runway” girl demands. Weisberger’s lucid details of to-die-for clothes, glamorous scenarios and beautiful people leaves the reader cooing with the same satisfaction of a page-turning, picture book experience.

Weisberger throws a few asymmetrical lines our way and a stylishly climactic ending that keeps the reader caring through Andrea’s fluttering inconsistency. The story often drags as tediously as our chain-smoking heroine, but don’t worry, Weisberger keeps it interesting with the ever-changing clothes and moods.