Hell on heels - Detroit News 7/14/2006

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    Hell on heels
    Friday July 14, 2006

    What's Prada anyway, and would the devil really wear it?
    Kara G. Morrison / The Detroit News

    So far, "The Devil Wears Prada" has grossed more than $70 million, and fashion fans are still flocking to glimpse the glamorous life inside the fictitious Runway magazine and its closet of designer samples.

    But what's all this fuss about Prada anyway? Here's everything you want to know, but didn't want to ask:

    What's Prada? OK, even the biggest fashion-phobe knows Prada is an expensive clothing and accessories label, one that embodies the unaffordable luxury of just-off-the-runway fashion. The face behind the name is Miuccia Prada, an Italian designer who inherited her grandfather's leather goods business and presented her first ready-to-wear collection in 1989.

    Would the devil wear it? Personally, if I were dressing a she-devil, I'd pull from Gucci's smoldering Tom Ford era. Talk about temptation personified! Or even Versace: Think Elizabeth Hurley in the iconic safety-pin gown. But the Prada image does work as shorthand for the exclusive, cutting-edge, sometimes severe fashion world, where, as Stanley Tucci's character says in the movie: Size 6 "is the new 14." Would Meryl Streep's Miranda Priestly character (said to resemble Vogue's Anna Wintour) wear Prada? Absolutely!

    What's the Prada look? "Her signature look is you don't know what it's going to look like," says Cheryl Hall Lindsay, public relations and special events manager at Saks Fifth Avenue in Troy. "I think of Prada as being a very sophisticated, edgy, modern collection. I think it gets defined as being not feminine, but I disagree."

    Who's Miuccia Prada? She's considered a visionary who pushes the fashion envelope and influences others. Lindsay says she often incorporates the unexpected, such as frayed hems and odd silhouettes.

    "She is her own person," says Sandy Schreier, a Metro Detroit fashion historian and author. "She never cares what the rest of the world is doing."

    Lexa Leatherdale agrees. "Every season, she's a trendsetter," says Leatherdale, public relations manager at Neiman Marcus in the Somerset Collection. "Everyone is literally waiting with bated breath to see what Miuccia Prada sends down the runway."

    Is Prada ever affordable? In a word, no -- although Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue are slashing prices on summer designer labels this week.

    Leatherdale says pieces from Prada's more casual "Prada Sport" line start around $500, possibly lower for T-shirts and other separates. Miu Miu -- a slightly more bohemian Prada label (Miu Miu is Miuccia's nickname) starts at about $1,000, and the main Prada garments are about $1,500 or more, before any markdowns.

    What's the deal with those nylon Prada bags? Probably the most recognizable Prada pieces are the nylon handbags with Prada's triangle logo. The much-copied bags cost about $450 to $1,000. If you find one that's drastically cheaper, it's probably a fake. Leather Prada handbags will set you back at least a grand.

    Was there a lot of Prada shown in "The Devil Wears Prada"? Not really. There's a prominent shot of Meryl Streep toting a light gray Prada bag. She also wears Prada heels frequently and a black Prada suit to a luncheon meeting in Paris. Film stylist Patricia Field has said she primarily used classic pieces including Donna Karan dresses and Bill Blass suits for Streep's character.

    Does Anne Hathaway wear Prada in the film? Hathaway is mostly clad in Chanel when she makes the jump from clueless college grad to fabulous fashionista. Field also dressed her in Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana and in a white coat by up-and-coming designer Yigal Azrouel.

    Was the film good for Prada? Schreier says her almost 10-year-old granddaughter is already pining for Prada. "Because of the movie, she wants to know what's so cool about a Prada bag," Schreier says. "I think Prada bags are going to be bigger than ever before."

    How can one get a "The Devil Wears Prada" look? Retailers are lining up to cater to movie fans. Amazon.com has established a fashion boutique based on the movie, selling a bag for $79.95 designed by Patricia Field and used by Hathaway in the film. Sephora stores are also selling cosmetics inspired by the film.

    Miranda Priestly, played by Streep, wears a two-piece black felt wool wrap top and skirt by Prada.

    Prada handbag, $1,390, and Prada platform heels, $495, at Neiman Marcus in the Somerset Collection.

    One of the most recognizable accessories, with a trademark triangular Prada logo, is this Nylon Frame Bag, $780. See full image

    The face behind the name is Miuccia Prada.

    You can reach Kara G. Morrison at (313) 222-2021 or kmorrison @detnews.com.