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A decade af­ter The Devil Wears Prada made Lau­ren Weis­berger an overnight pub­lish­ing suc­cess, mag­a­zine tyrant Mi­randa and her lowly as­sis­tant are back. Han­nah Stephen­son catches up with the Amer­i­can author to talk suc­cess, se­quels and style

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The DevilWears Prada author Lau­ren Weis­berger on her fab­u­lous new se­quel.

Hav­ing just taken part in a ‘stiletto strut’ with 36 other women in ca­nary-yel­low mile-high shoes to pro­mote her new novel, Re­venge

Wears Prada, 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

DevilWears Prada, loosely based on her 10-month stint at Vogue mag­a­zine as an as­sis­tant to edi­tor-in-chief Anna Win­tour.

The book, an in­stant New York Times best-seller, 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, Weis­berger, 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. But 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.”

For all the hype sur­round­ing the new book, Weis­berger seems fairly or­di­nary. She is nat­u­rally pretty, with blonde, shoul­der-length hair, a 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 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 Bloom­ing­dale’s 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. “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 Streep, 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, who has now be­come 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.

Life im­i­tat­ing fic­tion?

The book seems closely linked to real life, asWeis­berger also mar­ried and be­came a mother within the decade, while Win­tour climbed the ca­reer lad­der and is now artis­tic di­rec­tor for Condé 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 Weis­berger says she hasn’t crossed paths with Win­tour – the woman be­lieved to be the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind her larger-than-life Mi­randa char­ac­ter – in the past 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.”

She never wor­ried when the movie came out that theree would be reper­cus­sions for her par­ody.

“I wrote the book as a fun beach read. It wasn’t sup­posed to be a take­down, but was meant to of­fer an in­side glimpse.

“So much of what I did at Vogue was the reg­u­lar bor­ing as­sis­tant stuff, the find­ing and fetch­ing things. I just set it against this very sexy, glamorous place and made it more read­able.

“Some parts were ex­ag­ger­ated and some weren’t. It was crazy, very over­whelm­ing for me.”

Try­ing to find the bal­ance

Weis­berger 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 both pur­sue their ca­reers but Weis­berger ad­mits jug­gling work and fam­ily hasn’t been easy.

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

She de­scribes her hus­band as “in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive and hand­son” and has more sup­port from fam­ily nearby.

Born in Penn­syl­va­nia, the daugh­ter of a mort­gage bro­ker fa­ther and a teacher mother, Weis­berger grad­u­ated with an English lit­er­a­ture de­gree from Cor­nell Univer­sity and was then thrown into the world of fash­ion as an as­sis­tant at Vogue.

“I had come from such a small town. It was un­like any­thing I’d ever seen. I don’t know if it made me tougher but it prob­a­bly gave me more of a ‘can do’ at­ti­tude, there’s al­ways a way of get­ting things done. That was one of the great things I took away from that job.”

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.”

Weis­berger still seems a lit­tle be­wil­dered by all the at­ten­tion she is at­tract­ing with the new book, 10 years af­ter she was thrown into the lime­light with the de­but.

“Look­ing back, it was wild. I had no idea the book was go­ing to be­come what it did. It was re­ally ex­cit­ing to go on the first book tour, meet the read­ers and feel the buzz from the book, but it was over­whelm­ing as far as the me­dia and in­ter­views were con­cerned. I wasn’t pre­pared for it. I was so young and just not ex­pect­ing it, but that said, it al­lowed me to con­tinue to write books.”

She al­ready has ideas for her next book and hasn’t ruled out bring­ing Andy, Mi­randa and Emily back at some point – 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.”

Lau­ren Weis­berger’s life par­al­lels that of her main char­ac­ter Andy’s in the se­quel – both have grown up since The Devil Wears Prada

Meryl Streep and Anne Hath­away star in the film adap­ta­tion of Lau­ren Weis­berger’s book The Devil Wears Prada

In this long-awaited fol­low-up to The Devil

Wears Prada, Lau­ren Weis­berger re­vis­its her larger-than-life char­ac­ters

Emily Blunt’s per­for­mance in the film in­flu­enced Weisen­berger when writ­ing her se­quel

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