It Should Happen to You
At the after-party for the premiere of The Devil Wears Prada on the evening of June 19, Gay Talese indulged in a little free association about youth and the city.
“The dreams of people,” he said.
His stunning wife, the publisher Nan Talese, did a little seated dance, her arms a bit in the air, to the dated but highly effective blare of “Hey Ya.”
Mr. Talese channeled his exuberance and placed the film adaptation of Lauren Weisberger’s roman à clef in the tradition of My Sister Eileen. The Eileen of the New Yorker stories, collected in 1938, was written by Eileen’s sister, Ruth McKenney. The real-life Eileen, the nice girl just arrived from Ohio, who would later marry Nathanael West and still later die due to his famously bad driving, went on to become the fictional protagonist of an array of Broadway plays and films.
For The Devil Wears Prada, a slightly less long game of telephone: Ms. Weisberger’s life as Vogue editor Anna Wintour’s debased assistant transmitted a novel, and then a film.
“A girl comes to New York. Check it out on your computer. Half a century ago,” Mr. Talese said, referring, now, to Eileen. And! He clasped The Transom’s neck firmly. “Did you see Saturday Night Fever? A man out of his element, like the dancer Travolta played.
“Aspiration without foundation,” Mr. Talese said. He returned to the film of the evening. “This is a very important movie.”
The Devil Wears Prada is a very important movie. It’s New York’s feel-good indictment of the summer.
In it, young Andy Sachs—Anne Hathaway— is digested into a Condé Nast organism and reshaped by the brutal grinding and acid snarls of her fashion-magazine-editing boss. All the smiles are animal. She loses herself along the way—but what’s this? She finds herself, and then bosses, victims and the collaterally damaged, each goes home refashioned into—or returned to—his or her essential self.
Hilton Als, interviewing Joan Didion in the spring 2006 issue of The Paris Review:
ALS: Do you ever think you might go back to the idea of doing little pieces about New York?
DIDION: I don’t know. It is still a possibility, but my basic question about New York was answered for me: It’s criminal.
ALS: That was your question?
DIDION: Yes, it’s criminal.
In The Devil Wears Prada, it’s all bygones. All crime and no punishment. At the end, everyone shrugs, maybe wiser, but with zero recriminations—a weird Objectivist-meets-Quaker sort of resolution.
And so—while it could have been a warning—the movie is a recruitment letter, from New York to America.
The film, jaw-droppingly good and very satisfying and somehow containing Meryl Streep at her unbelievable best, describes New York as a horrible, horrible place of people who never say goodbye on the phone, who do not give a shit about each other, who cannot live without car services, and who live secure in the belief, as the film’s not–Anna Wintour puts it, that “Everybody wants this. Everybody wants to be us.”
But that’s O.K., the film says. No permanent deformation can result from that simple dream. Your monstrous bitch boss has feelings too, ya know. Also? Any compromises you might make on your Manhattan journey, when you finally take that brief dip into All About Eve–dom, are your own fault, not New York’s.
Well. That last is probably true.
Oh, hello. We were talking about a star-studded premiere, weren’t we? It was at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square. The star, Anne Hathaway, the nice girl from Carroll Gardens and New Jersey and Vassar, was super-cute and in a super mood, and in very adult red. “This is big,” she said, delighted. “ This is kind of big!”
Ms. Hathaway had her own long row of seats in the theater. She sat at one end, on an aisle. At the other end of the aisle was a chair reserved for “Ron Burkle (Hathaway Guest).”
“Oh, let’s go sit down!” Ms. Hathaway said. Next to Mr. Burkle’s seat was one reserved for a Camilla Olsen.
Sarah Jessica Parker, Broderick-less but in the company of dual dates, wore something amazing, as is her way, and two barely post-tweens hung off Oliver Platt on the escalator up.
Meryl Streep had a plane to catch immediately, which was referred to by people dealing with that situation as “Her” plane. Messrs. Huvane and Huvane, Hollywood’s most important emissaries, were, as always, saved seats as guests of Ms. Streep on the theater’s main floor.
And then, at the after-party, which was at some bizarre, lurid club at Fifth Avenue and 27th Street, on the 20th floor, Ms. Hathaway had changed into something even cuter, and black. She was on the wildly enormous roof deck upstairs from where the Taleses supped on noodle dishes, which was a bit of Los Angeles, palm trees flapping, so many half-finished buildings all around featuring cranes. (Or Miami? Where were we?) “Now renting!” proclaimed the building directly north, tucked in front of the Empire State. “At my last premiere,” Ms. Hathaway said, “everyone was crying.” (That had been Brokeback Mountain.) “This is such a happy party.”
And now, so that you know where the culture stands at this very moment, here is every brand reference in The Devil Wears Prada in chronological order:
Prada. Michael Kors. Gwyneth (Paltrow, overweight). Cavalli (Roberto). Lagerfeld (Karl). Gabbana (Stefano). Calvin Klein. Marc (Jacobs). DeMarchelier (Patrick). Hermès. Pastis. Meisel (Steven). Starbucks. Absolute (magazine). Banana Republic. Lacroix. Oscar de la Renta. Yves St. Laurent. “Get me Isaac.” Blahnik. “Get Patricia.” Donatella. Rachmaninoff. Halston. De la Renta. Lagerfeld. Dolce (Domenico). Jimmy Choo. Blahnik. UNINTELLIGIBLE. Narciso Rodriguez. Chanel. Chanel (boots). Bang & Olufsen. Charlie Rose. Clinique. Fendi. Marc Jacobs (bag). Jay McInerney. Joan Didion. Christiane Amanpour. Patrick McDonald (depicted in background at a party). Tom Ford. Pastis. Alex Katz (painting, depicted). Painting (unknown: Diebenkorn palette, a cityscape, depicted.) Blimpies (disparagingly). Harry Potter. Barnes & Noble. Smith & Wollensky. St. Regis; the Old King Cole Bar. J.K. Rowling. Dean & Deluca. Dior. Rocha (John). Salma (Hayek). Toobin (Jeffrey). Testino (Mario). Zac Posen. Noguchi. Valentino. Fendi. Magnolia Bakery. Chanel (necklace). Hermès. Jimmy Choos. Galliano. Lagerfeld (Karl). UNINTELLIGIBLE. Gaultier. Interview (magazine). Club Monaco (disparagingly). Plaza Athénée. Valentino. Chakra (Georges). Azzaro (Loris). Snoop Dogg. “Leslie” (a high-end publicist). Rupert Murdoch. Page Six. Donatella. Gertrude Stein.
With the exception of Patricia (Field), in dazzling little heels, none of the above were noticed to be present. (Well, except in ready-to-wear form, of course.)
So yes, Ms. Didion was one of those touchstone references of the film. She talked with writer Meghan Daum in the winter 2004 issue of BlackBook magazine. “I was working for Vogue,” Ms. Didion said. She was there from 1956 until 1963. “It was much more like a family than you would have thought it would be. The personnel director of Condé Nast would stop me in the hall to ask me if I’d called my mother, and if I said, ‘Not since last Tuesday,’ she’d say, ‘Come into my office right now and call her.’ And they had a nurse, Miss K, who every morning would line up little paper cups of phenobarbitol for you if you came in nervous.”
“Oh,” Ms. Daum said. She had worked at Condé Nast as well, decades later. “I wish they hadn’t done away with that.” Well, sure. For some time now, there hasn’t been any anesthetic whatsoever for the servant class.
Marc Jacobs, on Love
Outside Carnegie Hall last week, before the first curtain call on the second night of Rufus Wainwright’s re-enactment of Judy Garland’s 1961 performance there, The Transom mentioned to Marc Jacobs that there’d been a chat with his pal Sandra Bernhard the week before. “What are you wearing, Sandra?” she’d been asked, and she responded: “Marc Jacobs, of course.” She also said she’d met and liked Mr. Jacobs’ much-publicized young beau, Jason Preston (“Oh, yeah, I met him,” she said, in her way; “he came to my show.”) “That’s sweet. She’s great. I love her,” Mr. Jacobs said.
A man dressed in a tapered dinner jacket, tight-fitting mini-shorts, a top hat and heels, the stiletto kind, stepped up.
“The infamous and legendary Taboo!” Mr. Jacobs said. Taboo was dressed as Judy Garland from Get Happy.
Mr. Jacobs introduced his entourage, which included a man dressed in a black crocheted robe that fell to the ground. “That’s Ashton and that’s Monique, and that’s Ricky and that’s Louie, and that’s Jason,” Mr. Jacobs recited confidently, the last being Mr. Preston.
Had it not been reported only that week, though, that their relationship was history? “The breakup was a big lie,” snarled Mr. Preston. He was smoking a cigarette.
“No, it wasn’t a lie,” said Mr. Jacobs, who was looking cuddly in a light summer sweater. “It was a very short-lived breakup.”
“Four months ago, we broke up for, like, 30 minutes,” Mr. Preston said. “That Michael Musto—foot in his mouth. I don’t care. I saw him last night—he’s all like, ‘Please don’t be mad about the article,’ and I was like, ‘What article?’ He was like, ‘The one I wrote,’ and he’s like, ‘Sorry about the breakup,’ and I was like, ‘We’re together,’ and the article was written four months ago, but it just came out.”
So, are they happily headlining toward marriage, or what is it that’s allowed here in New York State—civil unionhood? “I don’t know about all that,” Mr. Preston said. “But maybe—you never know. I love him. Everything about him. He makes me laugh.”
Mr. Jacobs had been accosted by passing fans. He turned back to the conversation. “You’re interviewing him now?” he said, and surrendered to a sideways bear hug from his paramour. “No, we’re having a three-way interview,” said The Transom.
Bizarrely, as if on cue, everybody drew closer.
“If you consider that a good three-way, honey, you have a lot to learn,” said Mr. Jacobs.
And what qualities about Mr. Preston kept Mr. Jacobs enthralled? The designer’s voice turned caramelly. “Everything. Everything. He’s perfection. He’s a sweet, wonderful, loving human being with a heart of gold and he makes me so happy and I adore him. And he’s not bad to look at, either.” Mr. Preston swooned. A shock of his brown hair was bleached to auburn.
Mr. Jacobs has, for many years, been a bosom buddy of the rapper Lil’ Kim. Shortly after her unsuccessful court challenge last year, he put out a commemorative T-shirt, which fans of both the performer and the designer snapped up in droves. Were they still in touch? “Yes!” he said. “I’m gonna see her. She’s gonna get out early, I think. She’s supposed to get out July 4, around July 4, and I’m gonna try to make her a dinner party for her release.”
Make her a party? Why, Mr. Jacobs, all those years in Paris, now you’re translating your words directly from the French.
“Yay, yay,” he said. “I love her.”
Toilet Terror Downtown
Has 17 State Street, a curvaceous tower just around the corner from Wall Street, been assailed by a toilet terrorist?
The story goes that several bathroom stalls in the building have been regularly bombed, as it were, by an office worker (or workers?) with compulsively and egregiously bad scatological conduct.
“I’m the one who goes in with the plunger,” said the building’s bow-tied porter last week. “But without them making a mess, I have no job. So I can’t complain.”
The porter fingered the 41st floor as “very messy.” And two workers, outside at lunch last week, described the “egregious abuse” to the 22nd-floor bathrooms.
“Have you ever seen a rock concert, or that scene in Trainspotting?” asked one. “There was vandalism, scato- …. ”
“Scato-vandalism? Scato-graffiti!” the other proposed.
The 22nd floor is a transition floor—the high-rise elevator starts there. “People would go to use those bathrooms,” said the workers outside. Building manager Deloy Stoll said that only a floor’s tenants could access its bathrooms. Ms. Stoll offered to prove the security and the cleanliness of the bathrooms on floor 22—but a covert mission had already revealed that the door of the men’s room was unlocked.
“We have 2,000 or 2,100 people on 42 floors, with two bathrooms on each floor,” Ms. Stoll said. “So you’re going to have people who have problems. But this is a class-A building.”
“I handle very, very sensitive personnel problems regarding the bathroom,” Ms. Stoll said. “But if I get a call about spicy food, I just give them aerosol. We all eat spicy food sometimes.”
But hadn’t the problem been, well ….
“There were prophylactics and needles,” a building worker said. “One of the executives on the 10th floor got upset—but it could have been for insulin.”
“I heard there was a severed finger.”
“With a ring!”
O.K., perhaps the tale of the bathroom terrorist has completely spiraled into ludicrous legend.
“People piss on the floor, if that’s what you mean,” one office worker outside said.
So there is good news for 17 State Street. Whatever horrors have beset its bathrooms in the past, and whomever the culprit, everything is returning to a sloppy dull normal. “It’s not as bad as before,” the porter said. “For a few months, it was once a week, sometimes twice. One time we went up with the manager, and things calmed down.”
Dr. Sheldon Bach, a New York psychoanalyst, wasn’t surprised to hear that an employee might not be confining his toilet activities to the toilet proper. “Oh, yeah, it’s not uncommon,” he said. “It’s some destructive impulse. They’re furious at someone or another, and that’s how they express rage. It’s probably the company that the person feels has offended him.”
“The fact that people work on Wall Street,” he said, “doesn’t mean they’re not very disturbed.”
“It’s an impulse everyone has, right?” Dr. Bach said. “As in when people say ‘Piss on you’ or ‘Shit on you.’”
The Stallion’s Night Out
Owen Wilson, in town to promote his new film You, Me & Dupree, took Manhattan on Thursday night like a mustang at last unbridled.
The Butterscotch Stallion hit Downtown Cipriani in Soho around 9 p.m., with a table of people that included lovely Dupree co-star Kate Hudson. Mr. Wilson and Ms. Hudson have become quite chummy since filming. Somewhere between grabbing a drink at the bar and using the men’s room, Mr. Wilson made new friends, two brunette ladies who joined him in his town car, which was next en route to Marquee.
Midnight or so at Marquee, Mr. Wilson seemed to find his stride. According to an observer, he left the club with four lithesome ladies—two brunettes and two blondes this time. He kindly escorted them down the block to Bungalow 8.
(Last year, Mr. Wilson’s Wedding Crashers co-star Vince Vaughn said—in the midst of an exhaustive week of Crashers press junkets—“Being a wingman for Owen is like being a jockey: You just have to hold on for the ride.”)
At Bungalow 8, the sandy-haired Mr. Wilson, clad in jeans and a white button-down, sat at a table with Ms. Hudson, Scarlett Johansson and rock-icon scion Theodora Richards. His newest lady friends had apparently been relegated to the standing section.
A large-type bouncer approached Mr. Wilson, according to a source. He was overheard telling Mr. Wilson that a group of women had assembled outside and were claiming to be his guests. Mr. Wilson unpursed his lips, then drawled, “Let ’em in.” A stampede of no fewer than seven girls was then let through the gates.
By 3 a.m., Mr. Wilson had had enough of Bungalow. He was then seen getting into his town car with three show-quality fillies.