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Comparative Analysis Of The Films The Devil Wears Prada And Funny Face

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The two movies that I will explore in this essay revolve around publishing and fashion. The titles are Funny Face, published in 1957, that describes the story of a girl who is spotted by a fashion photographer, and The Devil Wears Prada, 2006, the story of a writer who becomes the assistant of a high-level women’s fashion publisher, comparable to the famous Vogue magazine. Both movies take us behind the scenes and in the production process of fashion magazines. Both stories revolve around young women who learn to understand that fashion is much more than luxury, beauty and superficiality, it’s changing your own nature. In both movies the main character flies to Paris to follow their fashion experience, one of a runway show, and the other one for the Paris Fashion Week. It is equally important to point out the epochal difference, equal to 50 years. Contextualising the whole in terms of fashion, in 1957, fashion was perceived and lived in a more joyful and fun way, with even singing and dancing performances, and with a touch of romanticism. Period and context for the film directed by David Frankel, The Devil wears Prada, released in theatres in 2006, where both the fashion and technology world had reached a different maturity and vision. However, there are also different points of contact here, especially with publishing, fashion shows and high fashion. Let’s not forget that this movie is a reinterpretation of an acclaimed romance novel, from which for obvious reasons, could not have been too detached in terms of plot. Finally, also the fact that one is a musical and the other one a comedy, denotes a substantial difference that vanishes in several points, thanks to the different analogies present in both movies. As mentioned previously, Funny face It’s not a comedy (like The Devil Wears Prada), but a ‘musical tale’, a sort of musical. The cast, composed of three illustrious surnames, Hepburn-Astaire-Thompson, best interprets the concepts on which the entire novel is based. These are; dreaming, fashion, feelings and the French capital, Paris, launch pad for anyone who has the dream of making fashion their daily work. Indeed it’s exactly what happens to our main character, Audrey Hepburn, where a simple librarian is discovered by a talented photographer (inspired by Richard Avedon) that immediately captures the potential, in an editorial way, of the young woman. However, at one point the more romantic part takes over. The young girl diverts her attentions from this fashion world, so distant from her usual beliefs, and tries to meet a philosopher of which she holds a very high regard, only to discover that the aforementioned character is actually a willing man to have sexual intercourse, and is not interested in her intellectual depth. Therefore, once she realises this she hits him with a little statue, and runs away to the runway.

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Thanks to a series of coincidences the young girl is able to reconcile with the photographer previously mentioned, and after declare their love for each other in one of the places (a park) where they had previously realised a photo shoot. Andrea just graduated and is looking for a job, she just arrived in New York and would like to be a journalist. She doesn’t understand and nor she cares so much about fashion, but as her first job she is hired in the prestigious fashion magazine Runway (a sort of Vogue) in the role of the personal assistant of Miranda Priestly, feared by all since she is the celebrity of the most unusual requests. Andy’s goal is to stay there for one year and then move to the editorial, she therefore submits herself to all the cruelties that Miranda Priestley puts her through. Simultaneously to her careen upgrade, the relationship with her boyfriend gets worse, and neglects also her friends and family. Even if she arrives to the point of break, she decides not to quit because she thinks that this job can give her many benefits. She cannot get off her head that this job can introduce her to people that can help her in her future journalism career. With time, Nigel, the right hand of Miranda Priestley, teaches Andy to care for her appearance and what she wears, and understand the importance of fashion, something that she has never cared before. At the important event of Miranda, Andy renounces to a night out for the Birthday of her boyfriend, with all their friends. This will make her fall into a crisis but at the same time it will make her look fabulous on the red carpet. This combined with her intelligence makes her more efficient in her work, therefore she quickly overtakes Emily, the other assistant, getting the chance to participate in the fashion week in Paris. There Andy throws herself into the arms of Christian Thompson, a successful writer, who promises her a bright future, but he had other intentions. He later tells her that he is part of a plan according to which the editor of Runway is about to dismiss Priestley, and substitute her with the younger and fresh Jacqueline Follet. Andy runs for help to her boss, Miranda Priestley, which had just broken up with her second husband. In the public occasion organised by the Runway magazine and the fashion designer Holt, Miranda announces that the Editor in charge will be Jacqueline, and not her trusted friend Nigel, as planned. Miranda ensures her stay as the head of the magazine. After this, Andy realises that the road taken is far from her initial aspirations. That of being a real journalist. Once back in New York, she gets hired as a journalist for the magazine Mirror, thanks to the recommendations given by Miranda. Andy also manages to reconcile with her once boyfriend, Nate. In the last scene of the movie Andy meets Miranda in front of the building of Runway, she gives her a smile as Miranda gets into the car feigning indifference, only once inside the car away from prying eyes, Miranda will let herself go to a smile. Therefore, even in this movie we have an happy ending, that is fulfilled with the achievement of the long-awaited job position. Deserve to be mentioned even the great fashion designers, photographers and newspapers that appear, even in the shape of fashion creations, in the movies. First of all, Richard Avedon, renewed fashion photographer, embodied by the character of Astaire, the photographer of the movie Funny Face. Richard Avedon even supervised the pictures that were taken in the movie, and a number of his pictures appeared throughout the movie, like the picture that convinced Astaire that Jo had talent as a model. The movie wants in a way to celebrate his career and peculiar style of taking photographs. There is then a tribute to the acclaimed director of Vogue and Harpers Bazaar, Diana Vreeland, whom we find in the character of Maggie Prescott. We can find many similarities between these two women, such as the opening scene “Think Pink” where Ms.Prescott finds this beautiful pink fabric, that is a direct link to the “Pink-primed-issue”, both of them want to give the people, what they still don’t know they want, in this case everything pink.

The representation of Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, feels like a rebellion and a look at the future starting from the beautiful creations by Givenchy specifically made for this movie, so much that they were rewarded with an Oscar for the best costumes. One of the most iconic pieces Givenchy realised for this collection is the bridal gown. This piece is romantic but at the same time steps out of the conventional standards of bridal dresses. It has a wide ballerina skirt of white tulle that arrives at the calfs, with a tight bodice and a rounded high neckline with straps. Another one of his iconic pieces was the ‘Winged Victory”. A chiffon red dress with a slit on the side, worn by Hepburn on the steps of the Louvre while doing the photoshoot. Apart from the personal collection made by Givenchy, the costume designer Edith Head realises different garments worn by Audrey Hepburn, receiving the oscar for the best costumes. In the movie The Devil Wears Prada, we find many famous brands throughout the movie. The bag worn by Miranda is of course Prada. Emily, assistant of Miranda often wears creations by Vivienne Westwood. Moreover, the famous “Chanel Boots” that consecrate her change in to a ‘fashion victim”. Always by Chanel are the necklaces that have appeared many times throughout the movie. Valentino was the only designer that accepted to appear in the movie, and designed the evening black dress worn by Merylin Streep in the scene of the museum. The value of the clothes that appear in the movie, all from remarkable international designers, amounts to one million dollars, that due to the limited budget were borrowed. One thing is certain, even the legendary Giuseppe Zanotti has dressed the protagonist with some of his famous heels. Also a small green dress made by Calvin Klein and a bag Kate Spade. Moreover, Miranda Priestley, as ‘super high fashion director’, also exhibited highly prized pieces, starting with Loubotin boots and ending up with Hermes shoes in the streets of New York. Both protagonists of the two movies work in a fashion magazine. One is a timid librarian who despises mundane life, judging it only as a false world. The other one is a journalist who does not have the slightest inclination for the world of fashion, and neither does she hide her ignorance about it. Both women at the beginning of the movie do not have at all any sense of style whatsoever, and they dress very old-fashioned and sort of conservative. The two young women when they go to Paris, wear a little black dress and take part in a photo shoot. They are deceived by the two men they so much admired. The very successful philosopher Flost and Christian Thompson, who only want to have a relationship with them and are not really interested in their intellects. Both Andy and Jo are captivated by the fascination of fashion, even if they then realise that this world does not belong to them. They recover the relationship with the people they love, and they both accomplish their dreams. On the one hand Hepburn marries the love of her life, and on the other Hathaway is hired as a journalist at the Mirror, both crowning their dream. It’s good to mention also that the editor of the fashion magazine, Ms.Prescot, just like in The Devil Wears Prada as Amanda Priestley, plays the role as the director of a famous fashion magazine. Another similarity between the two movies is the appearance of real top models. At the beginning of the movie Funny face, when they arrive in the library to have a photoshoot, the model is Dovima. Famous in real life for the picture taken by Richard Alvedon “Dovima with the Elephants”. On the other side, in The Devil Wears Prada, two important models make an appearance; Giselle Bundchen and Heidi Klum. In the two movies the concept of fashion (as well as love and human relationships) is one of the pillars of both plots. There are references to great designers and big brands in both movies, as well as inspirations to important characters and / or magazines, but as mentioned above two different visions of the fashion system are developed.

The devil wears Prada strengthens the idea that fashion today is a tense and unprejudiced world where only those willing to sacrifice everything can thrive, meanwhile Funny Face, leaves space to a dream, that of being able to do it with one’s own strength and being able to pursue one’s goal in a healthy, joyful and constructive manner. While in the movie of our days, The Devil Wears Prada the ‘compromise’ is unfortunately essential to reach the much desired “dream’. Another difference is the role that the male character plays, or better the love for the other person. While in Funny Face the man is also the mean with which the woman reaches the object of value ( which is becoming a model), in The Devil Wears Prada the men is the one whom afflicts and demoralises the protagonist, distancing her from what is – after all – an important job. Therefore in both movies, love plays a crucial role, but on one side in a positive and fulfilling way, and in the other one a negative one. After all, there is also a positive message, that is that even being distant light years away from the fashion world two outsiders can become part of this universe and achieve concrete and important results. Why is this a positive message? Because nowadays being part of the fashion system and community, that is being a model, journalist or fashion designer it is still a dream and hope for many people, and looking at two movies like these ones, they can only identify their selves more and believe even more in their dream. It’s incredible the difference that 50 years have in narrating two stories with a very similar background. Funny Face is one of the first movies were fashion meets the screens. In 1957 fashion was a fun and joyful adventure, where they danced, singed and there was always romanticism at the base of it. In Funny face we find a young girl that still does not have a clear sense of who she is or what’s her place in the world, but that eventually discovers along the way. Meanwhile, in The Devil Wears Prada, we have a girl very intelligent and focused on her dreams, capable of becoming a leader and use the power of her words to change the world. However, she is constantly looking for approvals from third parties, and never introspects itself. I personally preferred the setting and general mood of Funny Face, such as the romance, the passion, Paris in the 50’s. However when talking about the personality and mindset of the characters, I preferred Andy, main character of The Devil Wears Prada, always focused on her dream and willing to do everything to achieve it. To conclude, both movies had a very big impact on me, and made me realise the difference that 50 years can have on the Fashion System and everything that revolves around it. If I could choose who to be between the two main characters, Jo Stockton or Andy Sachs, I would not be able to decide. Because on one side Hepburn chooses to follow her heart, but on the other side for Hathaway is more important to thrive in the work environment. They are both great characters even if they have a different vision of their priorities, mostly due to the 50 years difference between the movies. In the 50’s young girls were set on focusing their attentions on finding a husband and having a family, a career path was not really a priority. Meanwhile, Andy already finds herself to be in the 21st Century, a totally different period with much more freedom for women to have a successful career path. </p>

01 February 2021

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