If you have ever watched any adaptation of “The Hundred and One Dalmatians”, the 1956 novel by Dodie Smith, you probably wondered what made Cruella de Vil so vile. Well, I’ve got some news: your problem is finally over!
Out on May 28, in movie theaters and on Disney+, “Cruella” traces the villain’s origin story. It follows Estella (Emma Stone), a poor but fashion-obsessed girl, who tries to establish herself as a designer in 1970s London. Her path crosses with Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson), the city’s biggest name in fashion. The feud between them makes Estella embrace her evil and vindictive side, waking Cruella inside.
Craig Gillespie, the film’s director, wanted to make fashion a central part of the story, which makes sense because Cruella always had an impeccable taste (despite the fondness for Dalmatian fur!). In the movie, the iconic villain wears 47 different outfits created by Jenny Beavan, a two-time Academy Award-winning costume designer.
London’s street style of the 1960s and 1970s had a huge influence here. We see a lot of berets, miniskirts and boots (beatnik wannabe!).
Like the Rolling Stones song, Estella was always dressed in black. Yeah, although she tried to do her own thing, she felt stuck in a system where it was unacceptable to walk off the line. So… it was a shy statement.
Cruella de Vil’s Style
Here’s the truth: setting the story in London’s 1970s punk scene was perfect. It was all about creativity and self-expression against the establishment – that’s what Cruella makes best!
The soundtrack matches the villain’s aesthetic and behavior, bringing groundbreaking artists such as The Stooges, The Clash and Blondie. The wardrobe takes cues from German singer Nina Hagen and the DIY punk philosophy.
Reusing items to make new clothing were Cruella’s best advice. She used to go to a vintage store (a glam rock’s heaven on earth) and even came up with a dress made of a garbage – an instant classic.
Black, white, grey and red are the main color palette here — a huge contrast to the young Estella. Her wardrobe is full of leather jackets with lots of pins, dramatic dresses, lace gloves and destroyed clothes.
The most notorious inspirations for the villain’s style were two rebellious designers: Vivienne Westwood, who helped shape the entire punk scene in the 1970s, and Alexander McQueen, known for his extravagance and outrageousness. Very Cruella of them.
The Baroness’ Style
For the 1970s, she was considered old-fashioned. The Baroness carries an Old Hollywood glamour, which explains her Joan Crawford and Elizabeth Taylor influences. Her wardrobe is full of warm browns and golds. Lots of turbans, taffetas, satins and sheen are also to be found.
1950s and 1960s haute couture designers, such as Cristóbal Balenciaga and Christian Dior, helped to create an asymmetric and outstanding look, although very snobbish – just like the Baroness.
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