If you love the Devil Wears Prada, you’ll love this 60s movie

July 24, 2019

Before I went to Paris, I thought of the city as flame-lit dinners next to cobbled roads, the elaborate button on a Chanel suit and charming French men who say normal things, but sound romantic because of their accent. 

What I found was a lot of fashion and it was made sweeter by a glimpse of John Galliano in the Gard Du Nord. And yes, there were a lot of wine-fuelled dinners by the cobbles. It was exactly as I imagined. But as for the charming Parisian men? The men I encountered were anything but charming. One asked me to suck his willy in exchange for a cab ride and another followed me around shouting ‘Roast Beef’ in the hope this would somehow charm an ‘easy English girl’ to bed.

From what I have heard, my experiences in Paris aren’t unique. The 1966 romantic comedy Made In Paris could have prepared me for that reality. The MGM movie flew ‘60s pin-up Ann-Margret to the city of lights to reveal a place that is both beautiful yet crawling with rats who have great accents.

Ann Margret In Made In Paris

Men are the bad guys in this movie. In the first ten minutes, fashion buyer Maggie Scott has to physically force her boss off of her by hitting him around the head with an ornament. Then the next day at work, sore from a bad head and rejection, he throws a tantrum and begins to bully Miss Scott. He struggles to think of a reason why anyone would say no to such a mature specimen of man that has the same dance moves as Mr Bean. He angrily accuses Miss Scott’s smile for leading him on and proves himself to be an unprofessional employer whose only redeeming quality is being able to put on a jacket without spilling his drink. 

But don’t worry, Maggie Scott embarks on a buying assignment in Paris, far away from her boss. She finds herself becoming the subject of that French charm that romantics dream about. A french designer Marc Fontaine walks uninvited into her bedroom while she’s asleep and takes offence when she’s surprised to see him there. He takes even more offence when she rejects his sexual advances. So, the charming designer then makes sure her stay in Paris is extremely romantic by trying to ruin her job and show her his French baguette. All behaviour that you would expect from a work acquaintance.

Although designer Marc Fontaine assures Maggie that Paris is the safest place in the world, it certainly doesn’t feel safe from his unwanted sexual advances. Throughout her stay in France, men treat her the same way Homer Simpson treats a doughnut.

60s Fashion By Helen Rose

Thankfully, Maggie Scott is a professional who asks to be judged “between the hours of 9.30 and 5.30”. She continues with her work and maintains an icy glare to anyone her treats her like an object. It was probably this same glare that allowed the actress Ann-Margret to keep any of her character’s clothes as part of her contract with MGM.

I’d be surprised if she didn’t keep them all. She’d have a wardrobe full of tall hats and embellished tangerine dresses, which would all sell fast on Etsy today. Costume designer Helen Rose designed all the clothes for the movie with a 250,000 dollar budget. She was previously known for her designs in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and The Bad And The Beautiful, but her designs were the highlight of this movie. 

Compared to Sex And The City’s 10 million dollar budget, it doesn’t seem like a lot but Helen Rose’s budget was huge for the ‘60s. At its core, Made In Paris is a fashion movie that would slip neatly in the genre next to The Devil Wears Prada or Funny Face. And like those movies, Paris is the perfect setting. Fashion is in the Seine River’s waters.

Watch Made In Paris

Although Maggie is on a business trip, she gets to experience the nightlife before she leaves. A drunk, wild side of Paris that Marc Fontaine claimed to have died 50 years ago. Indeed, the brothels were shut down in the ‘40s and the red light district has since become a tourist haven, but there’s still a home for the deprived in Paris.

After realising that keeping her legs closed put her job and confidence in jeopardy, Maggie let down her beehive and ran away to experience the Parisian nightlife. She thankfully gets to see the smokey late night cafes, the drinks in fancy glasses and more male predators, but this time, she is too drunk to care.

Ann Margret Dancing In Made In Paris

Made In Paris and local Marc Fontaine tells us that we can make the city of Paris whatever we want to make it. It can be a place to find the perfect dress or a wild night that you barely remember. But the moral of the story, whether the writer intended it or not, is to not rely on men to provide the romance unless you want to put out. 

Many early Hollywood movies painted women as unintelligible beautiful pieces of art that were occasionally given an adorable line. Writer Stanley Roberts created Maggie Scott as an intelligent professional that women of the ‘60s could aspire to be. It’s refreshing to see that the men in this movie are the dumb ones, falling over themselves and acting like babies. 

But let’s not forget that this movie was made in the ‘60s. So in the end, these men somehow appeal to the previously sensible Maggie Scott. But Maggie was too good for them all. And maybe that’s why the movie was a flop. But at least we got to see Paris. 

If you adore ’60s fashion like I do, discover more with my free ebook on the different style tribes, from mods to bohemians. Just fill out the form below to read today.

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