Devil in a Cerulean Blue Dress

Meryl Streep Devil Wears Prada
The storyline being discussed focuses on Miranda Priestly, Streep’s Wintour-esque protagonist, at the end of her career, facing the decline of traditional magazine publishing. Photo: 20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection
Lauren Sherman
July 8, 2024

For years, there have been dreams of a sequel to The Devil Wears Prada, the 2006 classic starring Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep, based on Lauren Weisberger’s 2003 roman à clef about working for Anna Wintour during the heyday of the magazine business. Over the weekend, Elton John’s musical adaptation starring Vanessa Williams began previews in Plymouth, England, in advance of a West End opening in October. Now I hear that the film’s Oscar-winning producer, Wendy Finerman, has convinced Streep and Emily Blunt to sign on for a sequel to the hit film. (I don’t know if Anne Hathaway, who said in April that she doesn’t think a sequel would happen, is involved.) 

Anyway, I’m told that Disney has given Finerman the okay to hire the original film’s screenwriter, Aline Brosh McKenna, now that Streep is in. The storyline being discussed focuses on Miranda Priestly, Streep’s Wintour-esque protagonist, at the end of her career, facing the decline of traditional magazine publishing. She’s forced to go head-to-head with her former assistant, Blunt’s Emily Charlton, now a high-powered executive at a Kering or LVMH-style luxury group, whose advertising dollars Priestly desperately needs. (A rep for Disney declined to comment.)

I’m pretty against getting the band back together, and don’t really care much about this movie overall, even if I think it does a better job than any other film in trying to capture the pettiness and power of the fashion industry. Hollywood is notorious for getting the fashion industry wrong, or at least not exactly right. One important distinction: In Hollywood, where you’re constantly pitching yourself, people are shameless. In fashion, they are shameful. Fashion movies often portray this as snobbery rather than insecurity, and therefore miss the mark. Zoolander, a flat-out satire, probably comes closest to the truth. 

However, I expect the increased intermingling will produce better fare as the fashion industry, itself, starts producing more films and television, and, not incidentally, taking majority stakes in Hollywood agencies. Interest in the industry, which generates something like 2 percent of the world’s G.D.P., is only increasing and becoming more sophisticated. (In some cases, at least. The New Look didn’t work. Emily in Paris does.) This proposed storyline for the Prada sequel obviously speaks to me. And hey, look, Top Gun: Maverick was the best thing to happen to popular culture in 2022, so fan service can work when everyone involved is excellent. 


On to the Saks-Neiman Merger

Back in the real world, the industry is reckoning with a merger that means everything and nothing all at once. Last Wednesday, I broke the news (and then another outlet followed up with an “exclusive”) that developer Richard Baker’s dream of merging Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus would finally, probably, most likely become fully actualized. If the deal is approved by the Federal Trade Commission, it will merge Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks.com (which was spun off two years ago), Neiman Marcus Group (which includes Bergdorf Goodman), and its associated real estate assets into an entity called Saks Global. 

Marc Metrick, the current C.E.O. of Saks.com and a Saks semi-lifer, will become C.E.O. of Saks Global. Rhône Capital, the private equity firm that bought the Lord & Taylor building from Baker’s Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) in 2017, is the lead investor. But, as I reported back in January, Amazon—which bought the Lord & Taylor building for $978 million in 2020 and turned it into offices—is also throwing in money. Salesforce is, too. 

This is a big glow-up for Metrick, who now gets to oversee Neiman Marcus and America’s most prized retailer, Bergdorf Goodman, in addition to a reintegrated Saks. All three of these stores have very specific personalities—Neiman Marcus is a Southern institution, Bergdorf Goodman is a national treasure, etcetera—and I think they’ll be preserved as other efficiencies of scale are implemented. I don’t foresee the new company closing down a bunch of Neimans and Saks Fifth Avenues immediately after the deal goes through—after all, this is a real estate play. Eventually, as the parent company finds the right lessees or buyers for certain assets, you might see certain cities become Neiman only or Saks only. In big cities where there are multiple distinct customers—Miami and Los Angeles come to mind—both will probably continue to exist. (Sarah Shapiro, a former retail executive who writes a great newsletter, did an amazing job aggregating almost everything that has been said about the situation thus far.)

Meanwhile, I’ve been fielding a number of questions from within the industry, starting with the obvious: Is everyone going to get paid? Several people wrote to me indicating that they were still owed money by either HBC or Saks.com and wanted to know when they would be seeing those funds. Another person was worried that this might give Neiman Marcus an excuse not to pay recently placed orders. In both cases, I truly believe everyone will get their money. “The brands should be fine,” a person who does business with all involved parties told me. Nevertheless, issues with multibrand retailers will not abate, and every few years one of them will screw their partners out of a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Second, many wondered: Will Geoffroy van Raemdonck continue to run the Neiman Marcus Group? Everyone really likes Geoffroy, but Marc is Richard’s guy, and my guess is that they will assign that job to someone else for various, obvious reasons. If Geoffroy leaves, he’ll have no trouble finding another, reputable gig in luxury. 

Third: Is there any upside to less competition in the market? Look, I’m not going to tell you that this is a great thing for smaller brands, but I also don’t think it’s going to affect business in the short term. My only advice, after seeing this cycle play out again and again, is that brands need to pursue a multichannel approach—retail, D.T.C., wholesale partners, etcetera. 

As for the bigger brands owned by the bigger groups, this could end up shifting the power dynamic a bit. Right now, Kering and LVMH brands can use the Saks-Neimans rivalry as a negotiating tool. (Nordstrom is part of this, too, but they sell far more mid-priced products than the others, and therefore rely less on luxury to drive revenue.) Now that Saks and Neimans are one, the luxury brands are going to have to negotiate with one bigger, stronger entity, which means that they will have less leverage when it comes to everything from shop-in-shop leases to payment terms. This matters less for the Louis Vuittons and Chanels of the world, who could basically say eff off to all department stores as they don’t really need them, but for brands that still rely on that distribution—and there are many of them—the Saks Global-owned stores will be in a better position than they were prior to the merger.