Monday, May 9, 2011

The Devil Wears Prada Redux

I finally caught a glimpse of the recent Devil Wears Prada film on cable TV here in Thailand. To aid my viewing pleasure, I had the sound on mute. What surprised me was how much the actress Anne Hathaway physically reminded me of the young Anna Wintour. Anna was never a great beauty but she had her attractive qualities as a teenager, which is when I fleetingly met her in London in the late 1960's. And actually, I kept thinking that a much more interesting film scenario would be that of the young Anna Wintour hopping from bed to bed as she hatches her plan for world fashion domination.

But getting back to the present : in looking at a phto of Anna in situ, in her office at Conde Nast, I am struck at how much she now resembles, who else, but her late mother, Nonie.

In spite of having had bore 5 children, I never found Nonie particularly mother-like. But there is no doubt that she devoted her life to making a home for her husband Charles Wintour and their brood. But the home as I recall it, always had a cold air to it. Lack of style. I wonder how Anna arranges her domestic life ...

But Nonie was definitely the passionate half of the married duo. Charles was legendary for his coolness under fire and his being cool to the point of passionless at the best of times. He could have been sketched by Le Carre. But he was endowed with a superior intelligence and compulsion to nurture journalistic talents. He was the cheer leader for the swinging sixties, albeit from behind the curtain of his editorship of the Evening Standard.

The other thought I had was whether being a fashion maven in any way betrayed her father's legacy. Well, the flip side is younger brother Patrick's career as a political journalist.

I can't help but think that Patrick and the world would have been better off if he had chosen to have become a thinking man's soccer correspondent, somewhat in the mould of Brian Glanville but with a gritty political slant colouring his writing rather than the Tuscan sun always ready to pop out in Glanville's.

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