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Disney’s Cruella and How No One is Doing It Like Her

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

If we talk about Disney’s notorious fashion icons, Cruella De Vil is, without a doubt, among the headliners. After all, the latest live-action film of Cruella showed us another side of her life that we had not seen before. Curiously enough, the film’s portrayal of this high fashion designer “villain” provided viewers with a whole different lens inside the haute couture community that I believe is not existent in our reality.

For this movie, director Craig Gillespie presents the life of Estella, played by Emma Stone, a little girl that becomes an orphan in the 1970’s, and her way and reasons to become Cruella de Vil. In this big-screen version of the classic Disney baddie, the main antagonist is the Fashion Designer and Baroness von Hellman, played by Emma Thompson, with whom Estella works with as an apprentice in the day, only to become her rival at night.

Imagine for a secondーrivalry asideーa creative director arriving in a garbage truck with a 40 feet long dress. Now, isn’t that a statement? In the fashion world we see a lot of different things, but let’s be real… No one is doing it like Cruella. Fashion lovers may have seen the way fashion houses were making out-of-the-box presentations last year due to COVID-19, but these efforts seem to fall short in comparison to Cruella’s one-woman couture extravagance.

The two-time Oscar winner costume designer Jenny Beavan, who ironically describes herself as “anti-fashion”, was the one behind all 47 outfits Emma Stone wears in the movie, and the other 33 Emma Thompson wears. Inspired by mixes of Dior, Nina Hagen, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Marie Antoinette, Beavan truly fulfills her role as a “storyteller with clothes”, as she describes herself for Irish Times. The outfits are what make the movie, and even if Beavan is not into fashion, for me, she has brought to life the best fashion show of the year.

In an interview with Variety Magazine, Beavan explained how she decided to overdo the 70’s outfits in order to convey the costumes’ true feeling and source of inspiration. In fact, the costume designer opted to preserve the color palette used in 101 Dalmatians in the 1996 film, while adding more shades of grey and red along with the punk and New Wave aesthetic styles. For the Baroness, she went with more satin classical looks inspired by Dior, and warm colors accented by golden details and notions.

Beaven worked with the designer John Bright, who owns a costume-rental house called Cosprop in London, with whom she has collaborated before. Some of the people that contributed to the costumes were designer Ian Wallis, Costume Pattern Cutter Kirsten Fletcher, and Jane Law.

Between her stunning red dress and white cape that gets fired up, the outfit with “The Future” makeup in her face, the newspaper headlining Cruella’s name dress, and the more than 5,000 handmade petals for the dress on top of the car scene, and, of course, the butterfly dress, Cruella makes a statement each time while bringing a bit of a challenge to the Baroness her own via her own unique way of communicating with others through her fashion choices and creations.

Laleska is majoring in journalism at the UPR Rio Piedras Campus. Loves travelling, fashion, reading books and sleeping. You can always find her with a smile on her face!