The design of The Devil Wears Prada: Fabulous fashion & glorious interiors
In a film famous for its fashion, it’s Miranda Priestly’s stunning office that grabs our attention
In 2006 Meryl Streep earned her 14th Oscar nomination for her brilliant portrayal of ruthless fashion editor Miranda Priestly in the romantic comedy The Devil Wears Prada. This classic coming of age movie, was always going to be stylish given its subject matter, however, many of the movie’s interiors equally match the fashion with eye catching opulence. Jess Gonchor, the production designer, has done a fabulous job here. He toured the offices of some real fashion magazines and gave the movie’s Runway offices – according to Gonchor “a clean, white look meant to suggest a makeup compact”. Gonchor has successfully taken Miranda’s characteristics and made the space around her fully reflect her personality. One of the industry’s most accomplished set decorator’s Lydia Marks was tasked with curating the interior furnishings and décor. By all accounts, Marks has produced some of the most beautifully dressed sets we’ve seen in any movie.
Miranda’s Priestly’s office plays a central role, and the (now famous) image of strong, powerful Miranda lording it over meek and insecure Andy has become somewhat iconic. Her office is minimalist, yet chic, sleek and efficient yet feminine. The colour scheme is black and white with one entire feature wall of framed photographs. In fact interiors magazine Elle Décor said “Miranda Priestley’s office in “The Devil Wears Prada“ features one of the most perfect gallery walls we’ve ever seen”. The set design and decoration is so well admired in the both the interior design industry and the movie production design industry it features alongside some of the most iconic movie design of all time in Cathy Whitlock’s fantastic book Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction.
Lydia Marks, (who also worked on both Sex and the City movies) explains that while the office is indeed, hard and sleek, there is more to it than that. “When I decorated the film set it was very important to us that it feel layered and interesting”. Miranda’s office chair is the Bird Chair by Preben Fabricius & Jørgen Kastholm Chair in black leather. The metal desk, which is in fact a dining table from Kartell, had a piece of amber glass put on top to create depth and warmth. There is also a vintage console table by Mastercraft which, with its combination of brass and wood, creates another element of warmth in the room.
To avoid making Miranda’s office look clichéd, like every other monochrome office space, Marks added quirky touches to represent Miranda’s personality. “At first glance it seems very clean lined and simple. Once you start absorbing the details, you realize that it’s a beautifully curated collection of periods, strong silhouettes and luxurious fabrics and finishes.” The B&B Italia Metropolitan chairs are covered in a bright green and there is a curvy art deco table in the background. Marks says her favourite piece is the mirror above Miranda’s desk. “One Saturday morning I found it, the perfect mirror, in a junk shop in upstate NY for $40.00.”
There are more hidden designer gems scattered throughout the sets. Just popping up in the background to let you know that Miranda Priestly knows, and likes, all design worlds. From the Bourgie Table Lamp designed by Phillipe Starck and the Panthella Table Lamp designed by Verner Panton to the Bertoia Diamond Chair designed by Harry Bertoia, the sets are an ever eye-catching array of stunning furniture and décor. Testament to the much revered work of Jess Goncho and Lydia Marks.
Interestingly, Miranda’s office bears a very strong resemblance to that of Anna Wintour’s, the real-life editor of Vogue magazine, down to the octagonal mirror on the wall! In fact, Anna Wintour had her own office remodelled following the movie’s release! But frankly, even more than a decade after its release, we can’t find anything we’d like to change in the on-screen version.
The Devil Wears Prada remains a major point of reference in the category of stylish movies. The fact that the interiors became as well known, and as coveted, as the fashion attests to that. For us, it will always stand out as one of set decorator Lydia Marks best works.
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