4th March 2018

Twelve years ago, I watched The Devil Wears Prada.

Yep… 12 years ago. Where have those 12 years gone? Looking back, I feel like I’ve been in some kind of coma, as if nothing has happened in my life. As if I’m in the same place; the exact same person.

Actually, a lot happened in my simple life: I opened a shop, ran it for four years, won a national prize for female entrepreneurs, then closed it. Meanwhile I was finishing a Masters degree, getting married, seeing my niece and nephew come into the world, buying a summer house, driving the Highway 1 from San Francisco to LA, travelling to Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Europe (four times) and numerous other travels in Brazil, which alone is big enough for a lifetime’s worth of travel.

Then I moved from Brazil to Scotland, and after that to England. I somehow found time to visit home a couple of times and I became seriously connected to my spiritual path. Oh! I also started a PhD which I will hopefully finish this year (fingers crossed). I did fieldwork for my thesis, met hundreds of people from all over the world, worked on an international documentary, won a scholarship, and won an international prize honouring my thesis in its early stages. I stayed in love with Grey’s Anatomy and learnt to deal with my own carousel — which according to Meredith Grey “never stops turning”. I stayed in command of a postgrad in digital marketing, and lectured for eight of these years… Yes, a lot happened. But still: it is impossible that I watched this movie 12. Whole. Years. Ago.

Why do I have this awkward distressing sensation that I didn’t use the past 12 years as well as I should have, and that somehow, I’ve wasted my life because I don’t own any Prada by now?

There is one scene of this movie I will never forget: Miranda — magazine editor and the “devil’s representative” — confronts her personal assistant, Andrea. Miranda takes issue with Andrea’s belief that fashion industry is superfluous and stupid, and that she plays no part in it. In the scene, Miranda coolly demonstrates how even those who think they’re somehow opting out of dealing with the consumerist devil still are.

Miranda points out that, when Andrea picked up her blue sweater from some clearance bin, it had only found its way there years after that exact style and colour had been the type of high-fashion Andrea thought she was avoiding.

“That blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs, and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry,” Miranda says.

Alice Phoebe Lou is a South African singer-songwriter whose song She, which features in Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, is nominated for Best Original Song.

I love her music, but in a recent TEDtalk, she spoke at length about her dislike for the pop music industry, or the mainstream, and how she wanted to be independent from it. Her music is unusual and different to the mainstream — so does that mean she’s likely to win an Oscar (despite probably not wanting to)?

As I don’t understand technical stuff about the Oscars, I decide to get in touch with a professional — Bram Meindersma, a Dutch sound designer and composer for film and TV. One of his works, the animation Negative Space is also shortlisted for an Oscar nomination this year.

Meindersma explains that the best original song category isn’t about music that’s new or unusual. He says: “I don’t feel it must be especially ‘original’, I focus more on helping to tell the story.”

First and foremost, he says, music should fit the genre of the film and not detract from it. “When a movie has strong originality, the soundtrack will have that too. When it’s a more conventional movie, it should be more conventional.

“I do like challenges though, and my style seems to drift towards the more experimental films and projects.”

I also want to get Meindersma’s take on opting-out of the mainstream — or trying to.

Isn’t Lou using just as typical a commercial strategy as mainstream pop artists? The award-winning sound designer answers: “It’s still a commercial strategy, it’s just not in the formal commercial pop-industry.”

He adds: “Other people might like the power and guidance of the ‘established’ music-industry, it’s a very personal matter I think.”

Just like Andrea from The Devil Wears Prada, Lou is trying to be outside the mainstream but is already part of it.

4th March 2018