Pret-a-Reporter

'The Devil Wears Prada' Costume Designer on How She'd Dress the Cast Now

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Meryl Streep (as Miranda Priestly) and Patricia Field

Jumpsuits? Off-the-shoulder tops? Tibi? In honor of the film's 10-year anniversary, we chatted with the film's wardrobe wizard Patricia Field.

It’s been 10 years (!) since The Devil Wears Prada debuted on the big screen on June 30, 2006. Yet it still remains a favorite among the fashion set for its insight into the industry (however exaggerated it may be), memorable quotes ("Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking."), gif-friendly moments (that Miranda Priestly eye roll never gets old) and of course, the high-fashion wardrobe that was featured on the film’s leading ladies Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, thanks to costume designer Patricia Field.

With help from designers and friends, Field — who’s also known for her work in Sex and the City and currently serves as the costume designer for TV Land's Younger — was able to access $1 million worth of clothes. Because let’s be real, her original $100,000 budget would not have sufficed for Miranda Priestly’s high-fashion ensembles that consisted of Prada, Donna Karan and Michael Vollbracht for Bill Blass.

In honor of the film’s 10th anniversary, we chatted with the 74-year-old creative on how she'd outfit Miranda and Andy today.

You dressed Meryl Streep in a lot of body-con looks from Donna Karan’s archives. What shift do you see in today’s power looks?

What's been catching my eye recently in that zone is jumpsuits. And maybe the jumpsuit replaces the power suit, a jumpsuit and a jacket — I’m not sure. When you asked me that question, my mind went to jumpsuits. And also I am seeing what I describe as a return to elegance. It kind of reminds me of the early ‘80s designer feeling, like Yves Saint Laurent, for example, where there was sort of a movement and elegance to clothing, you know. I’m just feeling it’s coming back.

What labels do you think are achieving this sense of elegance in their clothing?

For now, two companies that come to mind are Tibi and Gucci.

Miranda Priestly had a very high-end wardrobe. If you were to dress her today — would we see her in a mix of high and low, much like how fashion editors dress today?

I don’t think Miranda would be a high and low. For Miranda’s image, I was creating it with Meryl. For me, the idea was to create an original style for this character. I didn’t really want to be under the influence of any real existing chief editors of fashion of today. 

Miranda Priestly’s many purses were just as high-fashion as her outfits. What would be the "It" bags of today?

A bag inside a bag to me is the idea. I’ve seen small bags catching on and purse-size or wallet-size products out there, but I really haven’t seen this as a concept and I think it’s something that is very practical for today’s lifestyle. I would definitely want to use that idea.

How about Andy’s look — thoughts on how you’d style her today?

I think that the tops on Andy would be shorter, they might be off-the-shoulder and then balanced by that elegant skirt on the bottom for example. I feel like it’s a strong upcoming trend — elegant sophistication. She could handle a little bit of youthful sexiness.

Any particular brands you could see her in?

You know, my weakness is brands because when I see something I see it for what it is, and I don’t really start out with a designer approach.

How do you see assistants dressing differently today?

If I go to a fashion show I see all these bloggers and they’re all dressed for sitting in the front row. So I really believe that if you’re in the business of fashion today, you present yourself in a way that describes your own individual style. The idea of individual style as opposed to following the trends line for line.

What are your thoughts on fashion bloggers?

Well, I think it has opened up a whole new career area, and structural area, for journalism. An opportunity for young journalists or wannabe journalists who step out as individuals and present their views and themselves and so on. And I think that’s very healthy because all industries need young blood with new ideas, otherwise they dry up. 

With everyone being able to have a voice online now, do you feel that magazine editors like Miranda Priestly have the same influence as they did 10 years ago?

Possibly they don’t because I still take a look at the magazines, the paper magazines. I still read a book. But I think that the young generation, they don’t spend money on magazines, on cable TV, on books — they just get on their iPads or computers and everything is there for them. 

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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