Now, The Devil Wears Prada is released this week as a film, shedding fresh light on the daily horrors and humiliations of working life in the world of glossy fashion magazines.
Public reaction to the Hollywood version will be monitored closely by the cast of characters whose intensely competitive, feudal world allegedly inspired the novel. None more so than Ms Wintour, legendary editor of US Vogue, whose management style can be described, generously, as no nonsense, having earned her the nicknames "Frozen" and "Nuclear" Wintour.
Since the publication in 2003 of The Devil Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger's novel, widely seen as based on her stint as Wintour's assistant at US Vogue - the New York fashion and media set has awaited the movie with glee and horror.
Starring Meryl Streep as a power-heeled boss of a fashion magazine called Runway, and Anne Hathaway as her assistant, it looks set to stoke the bonfires in this already pathologically vain and insecure world.
Weisberger denies that the story was based entirely on her former boss, but most recently Wintour, herself a high priestess of high style, wore a Prada dress to a New York film preview. Her appearance prompted the question: just how accurate is this fictional version of the fashion magazine world?
"You practically lose your human rights when you're working as an assistant," one magazine insider half-joked.
One beleaguered assistant at another glossy magazine added: "Working at a fashion magazine is sometimes like living in a parallel universe where right and wrong cease to exist. Your friends and family don't understand, but your life, and your sanity become dependent on getting that shoe, fixing that problem, booking that flight for the nanny, and securing that table at an impossibly exclusive restaurant. I suffer panic attacks regularly."
"It's true. You have to be in love with it or you leave. You couldn't put up with it otherwise," said one former US Vogue worker.
And Wintour herself? "The book is accurate," said a former assistant. "It was more of an unsaid thing, but you definitely did not ride the elevator with her, and you definitely couldn't say anything to her. Not that she'd reply if you did."
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The movie is set for UK release in October this year.
Personal assistant Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway) leads a working life of misery at the hands of her boss Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). Told to deliver her boss's car to a garage and a pet dog to her apartment, she is summoned...
"And why would you do something like that?" she snarled, looking up from her copy of Women's Wear Daily for the first time since I'd walked in. "I specifically requested that you bring both to the office, since the girls will be here momentarily and we need to leave."
"Oh, well, actually, I thought you said..."
"Enough. The details of your incompetence interest me very little. Go get the car and the puppy. I'm expecting we'll be all ready to leave in 15 minutes. Understood?"
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