Meryl Streep

The Devil Wears Prada: The True Story Behind Meryl Streep’s Iconic Villain

Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada is said to be based on Vogue editor Anna Wintour, but is there any truth to this theory?

One of the most iconic characters in modern film is Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. She’s known for her ice-cold demeanor, ruthless criticism and fierce sense of style. The Devil Wears Prada was based on a novel by Lauren Weisberger, who spent time as an assistant to the editor of Vogue magazine, where she drew much of her inspiration for the novel. This means that Miranda Priestly could be based on a real-life person, specifically the editor of Vogue at the time, Anna Wintour. Unfortunately, Weisberger has never actually confirmed whether or not this is true, but there is enough evidence to suggest that Miranda was inspired by Wintour.

Weisberger worked as Anna Wintour’s assistant at Vogue after traveling around the world following her college graduation. While at Vogue, she got to know the ins and outs of the merciless job, from administrative duties to assisting the higher-ups. Her experiences at this time later served as inspiration for her book, The Devil Wears Prada.

Certain facts connect Miranda’s character to Weisberger’s former boss. Anna Wintour has publicly stated that she considers herself “stubborn” and has been called “Ice Woman” by her employees. In The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda certainly embodies this personality with her cold words and lack of connection to her employees. Though this came across as cruel and unwarranted, both Miranda and Wintour carried the weight of the magazine on their shoulders and every little decision was theirs to make. It’s astounding that neither the real version nor the fictional version crumbled under the pressure.

In addition, there’s a documentary titled The September Issue that focuses on Anna Wintour during the production of the September 2007 issue of Vogue, and one can easily see the connections between the documentary and The Devil Wears Prada. From the way The September Issue was framed, using shots that look like they were pulled directly from The Devil Wears Prada, to the way the film depicts Wintour, it’s easy to see why so many people think Miranda is based on Wintour. There is a shot of the real-life editor in the back of a car, arms crossed, looking simply unimpressed. In The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda often poses like this anytime she’s in a car, especially when she’s in Paris. From the posture to the look on their faces, they could very much be the same person.

Without Weisberger’s confirmation, there’s no way to verify whether Miranda is truly based on Wintour, but it certainly seems that way. Given that The Devil Wears Prada was based on Weisberger’s experience at Vogue, it would be near-impossible to not include some aspects of her direct superior, Wintour. While the film portrays Miranda in a negative light, much in the same way that Wintour is frequently portrayed in the media, both characters ultimately do what they have to do to succeed in their job, which is a cutthroat business at best. Even if Miranda isn’t directly based on Wintour, her character is an accurate representation of the type of personality needed to thrive in that kind of business. Whether she’s truly based on Wintour will remain a mystery, but it’s easy to see where her character drew its inspiration.

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