Notebook: Devil in Prada – when success deceives

Olalekan Olarewaju

A couple of years ago (okay maybe a bit more than a couple but you get my point either way) the norm was to aspire to be a doctor, a lawyer, perhaps an engineer; basically, something traditionally viewed as “respectable”. From those 2 lines you probably have a fair idea where this is going (due to the recent onslaught of articles the web has been plagued with, dedicated to “analysing” the sudden influx of people into the creative fields). But yes, somewhere between it became pretty cool to have a talent beyond just “books” (mostly related to fashion). Now I’m not gonna bother you with some sappy account of how I dropped out of school to chase my dreams and how it made me a happier person and bla bla bla…not just because that isn’t the case and I’m still slaving away in the hellhole that is university, but because I doubt anyone would particularly care if that were the case.

What I do want to bring your attention to is something slightly perplexing I’ve happened to notice. Back before the “boom” in “the industry” occurred, it was typical to see, or hear a designer, stylist, or creative professional in any capacity in the fashion industry in Nigeria decrying the lack of interest in their field. Fast forward to today and it’s a different tune being sung entirely. Every “established” professional seems terribly incapable of letting any opportunity slip by to rant and wail about how “the industry isn’t all glamour” and how it is just so much excruciatingly difficult than anything else in the world. Now, to be fair, this isn’t a crime in the least. In all honesty, it’s a necessary thing to say. However, most of the time it’s due less to any concern for newcomers in the industry and more to some weird desire to prove some form of superiority which, in reality does no one any good. It’s less of a “be prepared to work hard if you want to make it” and more of “I’m so much better than you because I work so hard in this terribly, terribly difficult industry”. There are few things more annoying than how Nigerians working in the fashion industry adopt this air of faux-snobbery simply because they feel they have to. You would almost be deceived into believing it’s impossible to be a magazine editor unless you share the kind of sour attitude Anna Wintour is fabled to have. You can practically see them replaying The Devil Wears Prada over and over again to adequately study the proper techniques of cattiness as portrayed by Meryl Streep’s character Miranda Priestly.

It’s slightly laughable because more often than not, you can see right through it. But more than anything, it’s disappointing. One would think they would actually be happy that more interest is being paid to their fields as opposed to attempting to create some form of pseudo-exclusivity. Everyday a young man or woman somewhere manages to pluck up the courage to chase a dream for which most people would probably laugh at them. It’s pretty sad that people who once shared similar dreams and have been able to turn them into realities would rather focus on proving how high and mighty they are as opposed to offering support to people who are in shoes they themselves once wore.
This might seem like an attempt at one of those “scathing” articles which gain writers notoriety so easily, but it’s much more of one along the lines of “all we need is love”. Cheesy as that is, you really can’t fault it now can you?

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