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Before fur-loving baddie Cruella de Vil became a puppy killer, she was a scrappy punk rocker with dreams of becoming a fashion designer — until she got hell-bent on revenge on her evil boss and, well, things got out of hand.
That’s according to “Cruella,” the latest live-action Disney movie that updates or provides a twist to one of its animated classics. This time, that classic is 1961’s “One Hundred and One Dalmatians.” And the latest incarnation of the villainess, played by Emma Stone, not only gets a backstory, but an entire makeover.
“When we first meet Estella” — that’s Cruella’s birth name — “she feels like a girl who’s grown up in 1970s London,” hair and makeup designer Nadia Stacey told Vogue. “Then, as the story progresses, she transforms.”
Stacey, along with costume designer Jenny Beavan, had to show that change through 47 increasingly crazed looks, from bespectacled bereted naif who dyes her naturally black-and-white hair red to a deranged glamazon who embraces her wild two-toned tresses and dons a series of spike-encrusted leather jackets, enormous deconstructed chiffon skirts, Ziggy Stardust-inspired face paint and Marie Antoinette-worthy updos. (The original cartoon villain, comparatively, had one ensemble — a white fur coat slung over a skimpy black slip dress — that she wore over and over again.)
“This character has been reworked several times throughout the years, and each time, it’s been more edgy and using punk iconography,” fashion historian Monica Sklar told The Post, citing the popular movie “Descendants” and the TV show “Once Upon a Time,” not to mention Glenn Close’s famous turn as Cruella in Disney’s 1996 “101 Dalmatians.”
It’s effective stylistic shorthand. “Punk has a strong sense of self, a questioning of authority and the conformity and rigidity of society that can become quite aggressively contrarian,” said Sklar, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia who has written a book called “Punk Style.” “There are many misnomers equating punk with nihilism,” whereas, in truth, it’s “extremely self-expressive.”
It took a lot of work to land on an almost fantastical look that was still grounded in London in the 1970s. Beavan scoured costume houses, as well as vintage fairs and markets in London, New York City and Los Angeles for inspiration, lugging 10 suitcases worth of garments to Stone’s home in LA. “I think it was about six hours of fittings,” Beavan told Vogue. “We found the basis of the whole Cruella look. I don’t think we used one actual piece [from the vintage pieces pulled], but we knew where we were going with it.”
That look consists of a strict color palette: black, white and gray, with red for dramatic moments, such as the vintage 1950s ruby gown — which in the film is designed by her former boss and nemesis, played by Emma Thompson. Stone’s Cruella twists and shreds, so that it looks like a deranged Alexander McQueen dress. Beavan also had a vintage jacket remade and embellished it with dozens of safety pins and metals and paired it with an enormous organza skirt festooned with 5,060 handmade faux flower petals.
Then there were the dozens of wigs and out-there makeup looks, which took inspiration from everything from 18th century Versailles to current drag culture. “I watched ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ while I was working [on the hair designs],” Stacey told the website PopSugar. “There was a massive picture of [goth-punk singer] Siouxsie [Sioux] in the corner of my makeup station,” she said. “Siouxsie’s eyebrow shape was probably one of the first staple references [we had].”
Yet, as Cruella grows more evil, the grander her look gets, so that it far eclipses and goes beyond punk. Particularly when it comes to fur. “There’s a long-standing relationship with punk and leather, as well as animal prints,” said Sklar. “But fur, not so much.”
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