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Chanel, Gucci and Prada? Not for me; A decade after The Devil Wears Prada made Lauren Weisberger an overnight publishing success, magazine tyrant Miranda and lowly assistant Andy are back. HANNAH STEPHENSON catches up with the American author to talk success, sequels and style.


HAVING just taken part in a 'stiletto strut' with 36 other women in canary yellow mile-high shoes to promote her new novel, Lauren Weisberger looks relieved to have changed into soft, beige ballet pumps.

It's 10 years since the author rose to fame with her debut novel, The Devil Wears Prada, loosely based on her 10-month stint at Vogue m1agazine as an assistant to editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.

The book, an instant New York Times bestseller, sold four million copies, was translated into 40 languages and became a hit movie in 2006, starring Meryl Streep as the icy, impossibly demanding Runway editor Miranda Priestly, and Anne Hathaway as her put-upon assistant Andy Sachs.

Unsurprisingly, Lauren, who made a mint out of her satirical slant on the fickle world of fashion, doesn't have a wardrobe full of designer labels and haute couture pieces.

"I do have one pair of fluorescent orange Jimmy Choos, which were as expensive as they are uncomfortable," the 36-year-old says, although she won't reveal what she paid for them. "They look great. They don't feel as great as they look.

"They were purchased for this tour. At home, I'm in my mummy uniform - jeans and a T-shirt, covered in vomit all the time."

For all the hype surrounding the new book, Lauren seems fairly ordinary. She is naturally pretty, with blonde, shoulder-length hair, clear complexion and little make-up. She is also super slim.

She says she doesn't really follow fashion and today looks casual in a floral short-sleeved, loose-fitting top from Saks over bright blue skinny cotton jeans and those comfy-looking pumps. Are any of them designer? She says not.

"I've never bought anything from Prada, for me, in my entire life. In terms of Chanel, Gucci, the really crazy high-end stuff? That's not my thing, but I love buying clothes as much as the next girl. In New York I head for department stores like Bloomingdales and Saks. I do Gap and I love Toms shoes."

After the mammoth success of the first Prada book, she did feel pressure when writing the second, Revenge Wears Prada.

"I've never written a sequel but it gave me the best of both worlds. You keep the characters you know, so you're not faced with a blank, terrifying screen, you get the creative part of filling in the lapsed time. It was fun for me and a new challenge."

Did the characters created by Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt in the film influence her writing second time around? "I thought about Emily, not the other two. There was something about her performance, the attitude, the accent, the great one-liners... I envisaged her when I wrote the sequel."

In it, we find Andy and her one-time Runway colleague Emily as unlikely friends and business partners in a hit bridal magazine called The Plunge. As the magazine goes from strength to strength, monstrous Miranda Priestly, now editorial director of fictional publishing house Elias-Clark, turns up wanting to buy them out.

Simultaneously, Andy marries Max, the dashing head of a big media company, and has a child, so life for her changes beyond recognition. But things never turn out as planned.

The book seems closely linked to real life, as Lauren also married and became a mother within the decade, while Wintour climbed the career ladder and is now artistic director for Conde Naste, Vogue's publisher.

"To an extent, the changes in Andy reflect my own life," she agrees. "I just think between your 20s and 30s there's a huge change. I got married and had two kids. It's officially adult time now. We both parallel that."

Miranda is just as monstrous in the sequel as she was in the first book, but Lauren says she's never crossed paths with Wintour, the woman parodied in her pages, in the last decade, and isn't expecting to any time soon.

"I don't think I'll be bumping into her in my Gymboree classes, which is where I spend the majority of my time these days."

Today, Lauren and her husband, playwright and screenwriter Mike Cohen, live in Manhattan with their son and daughter, aged two and one respectively. They have a nanny to look after the kids while they pursue their careers but Lauren admits juggling work and family isn't easy.

"It's challenging. My friends and I talk about it all the time. Women have to try and balance family and work in a way that you feel you're giving both your all without driving yourself crazy."

Born in Pennsylvania, Lauren graduated with an English literature degree from Cornell and was then thrown into the world of fashion as an assistant at Vogue.

A decade - and a string of novels - later, she's hoping that the Prada sequel may spawn another movie.

"It would be great if it happened.

My fingers are crossed. There are always murmurings of interest. Fox owns the characters from the first film so it's their call if they choose to make another."

Lauren already has ideas for her next book and hasn't ruled out bringing Andy, Miranda and Emily back again - just not right now.

In years to come, the character of Andy may well leave the place that's been her home for so long.

"I can't see her raising both kids all the way through childhood in the city. They deserve to know what grass is - and they currently do not." | Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns by Lauren Weisberger (HarperCollins) is priced PS7.99.


Emily Blunt, right, starred in The Devil Wears Prada

Lauren Weisberger, author of The Devil Wears Prada, and new sequal Revenge Wears Prada, below
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 6, 2013
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