How Cruella Costume Designer Jenny Beavan Made This Dress

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This “Cruella” story first appeared in the Problem under the line from TheWrap Awards magazine.

You imagine that for a costume designer, a movie like “Cruella,” Disney’s surprisingly hip standalone film built around the immortal villain of their 1961 animated classic “One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” would be a dream come true. After all, the film follows young Estella (Emma Stone), who travels through 1970s London as a fashion designer/provocateur known as Cruella as she seeks revenge for the tragic death of her mother. years earlier. It’s the rare movie where clothes take center stage and also serve a narrative purpose.

But for two-time Oscar-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan (“Mad Max: Fury Road”), the prospect of designing for Cruella was, she said, “utterly daunting.” “Fashion in any form is not really my thing, so I was really out of my comfort zone,” said Beavan, who previously starred in Disney’s live-action sandbox with “Christopher Robin.” and “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”. .” “But the script was intriguing and I’m a storyteller, so I just had to adjust my thinking to include 1970s fashion, which I remember.”

Of course, this new film is part of a continuum of incredible on-screen Cruella de Vils, and Beavan made sure to give it a shout-out, but not the Cruella you’d expect. Instead of the 1961 film, Beavan was thinking more of the version scripted by John Hughes from 1996, with costumes by the late Anthony Powell. “I absolutely loved Anthony Powell, who I knew well, so I was aware of possible comparisons,” she said. “But our story was so different and an origin story that I felt safe doing something new.”

If there’s one standout aspect of a movie that abounds with it, it’s when Estella, incognito in her Cruella persona, crushes a ball that’s thrown by the evil Baroness (Emma Thompson). She enters wearing a white coat, which she lights on fire, revealing a vibrant blood-red dress underneath. “The description of Estella finding the dress in a vintage store and what she does with it is in the script,” Beavan said. “Also, the lighting of the cape and the unveiling of the red dress, I wanted it to be possible somehow. I don’t like to deceive an audience. She considered sewing some ” fire thread “into the fabric” so theoretically it was almost possible to burn the cape,” she said, though Disney’s attorneys likely levitated at the mere thought of it.

In the end, the visual effects artists did their best job – and when Beavan saw the footage, she was blown away. “We shot the sequence quite far into the schedule, so I had lived with the ideas and the creation of this dress for so long, I don’t think I could have imagined any other way to see it!” said Beavan. Although she may have been intimidated at first, Beaven created looks that lived up to Cruella’s legacy, a true fashion icon whose impact resonates no matter the medium.

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