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‘Cruella’: Reverse Engineering Disney’s Famous Villain for Emma Stone’s Punk Look

Young Cruella is best defined by the eye-popping red dress and the "The Future" black stenciled mask homage to The Sex Pistols.

Emma Stone as Cruella in Disney’s live-action CRUELLA. Photo by Laurie Sparham. © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserve

“Cruella”

Laurie Sparham/Disney

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For makeup and hair designer Nadia Stacey (“The Favourite”), creating the ’70s punk look for Emma Stone in Disney’s “Cruella” origin story involved reverse engineering. Stacey started with the iconic two-toned black-and-white hairdo, black eyeshadow and liner, and red lips, established in the animated “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” (1961) and re-imagined for the live-action remake (1996) starring Glenn Close. But Stacey “never felt shackled to any of that.”

“They stand on their own,” she said. “I wanted to believe our Cruella 15 years later becomes the Glenn Close version that we know. And because we’re an origin story, and we start with this girl who’s finding her way and finding her fashion, it’s believable that she’s playing with all those looks in hair and makeup and costumes, and eventually will become the sculptured look that Cruella is.”

Having already worked with Stone on “The Favourite,” Stacey knew what worked on her face and didn’t, and the actress trusted her with all the wild variations for Cruella (anchored by an assortment of two-toned wigs). “I had free range to play,” she added. “She’s mentored by the dark side of who she will later embrace through the baroness [Emma Thompson], the [famous] London fashion designer. Emma’s look was based on the ’50s, while Cruella is a product of the ’70s and will become a variation of the baroness.”

By contrast, going with a recycling fabric motif for dressing Stone’s subversive fashion designer, Cruella, was an even freer experience for Oscar-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” “A Room With a View”). “I wanted to make sure that you could believe that, eventually, she could become Glenn Close,” said Beavan at a press conference.

Emma Stone as Cruella in Disney’s live-action CRUELLA. Photo by Laurie Sparham. © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“Cruella”

Laurie Sparham/Disney

Beavan tapped her own youthful memories of ’70s London fashion in finding an arc for Cruella, who morphs from a rebellious child to a fashion sensation in competition with the baroness. “It had a mixture of influences,” Beavan said. “Obviously ’70s, military, and fantastical, but also using old pieces, in the way we’re all trying to do now: ethical, use it up, re-purpose, recycle. I thought was part of her ethos too. And we obviously had some quite punky music.”

For Cruella’s big reveal at the baroness’ famed black-and-white costume ball, Beavan designed a standout red dress. This was scripted as a deconstruction of a prestigious vintage baroness evening gown. Beavan found the right color while perusing the racks of a Beverly Hills shop. “The idea was that there was enough fabric in this dress, because it also had a massive stole that went with it,” she said, “so that you could just about believe that she made it from this original work she found.”

Emma Stone as Cruella in Disney’s live-action CRUELLA. Photo by Laurie Sparham. © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“Cruella”

Laurie Sparham/Disney

From a makeup perspective, Stacey was challenged with complementing the red dress with a believable disguise beyond the black-and-white hair and a dash of makeup. ” I wanted to do a mask, and that all stemmed from feather eyelashes I had,” she said. “And we started a process of building bit by bit this mask with feathers and jewels. It was a disguise, to use makeup as a deception.”

As for the photo bomb military outfit with the red petal skirt, it was inspired by Met Gala themes. “That was one of those moments that came together for costume and makeup,” Stacey said. “The film was fast paced and we didn’t have lots of time to test any of these things out. I’d done this crown out of hair and this nod to [John] Galliano 1920s eyebrows in there. It was crazy but regal because of the crown, and then when she put this military costume on with the epaulets on the shoulders, it worked so well together.”

Emma Stone as Cruella in Disney’s live-action CRUELLA. Photo by Laurie Sparham. © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserved

“Cruella”

Laurie Sparham/Disney

But Stacey’s most inspired punk moment was “The Future” mask stenciled in black on Stone’s face, coupled with sparkly red lipstick. “That was in the script commenting in the papers about Cruella being the future of fashion,” she said. “So I wondered how you would portray that. I knew it wasn’t going to be on her costumes, and the Sex Pistols album cover [‘Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols’] was one of my references, and I thought: What if we wrote it on her face in that font? And I didn’t know if they would go for it. And [director] Craig [Gillespie] was up for it, and Emma liked it: Whatever I sprayed on her face, she embraced.”

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