The Unstoppable, Glamorous Cruella De Vil
With fashion such a central part of the story, Disney tapped a pro for the job of building out the film’s style credentials starting from her fabulous car, her cigarette holder to her long red gloves
Is Disney remaking ‘101 Dalmatians’?
Not exactly. While the House of Mouse has proved fond of remakes over the last couple of years, Cruella is more of an origin story in the vein of Maleficent. So, if you ever wondered how the slightly deranged villain in the original cartoon and/or Glenn Close became so enamoured with murdering puppies, this should offer some long-overdue clarity. Diehard fans of either the 1961 or 1996 films (or even Dodie Smith’s 1956 novel) can also take comfort in the fact that Disney has assembled a whip-smart team to bring Cruella’s past to life, with The Favourite’s Tony McNamara penning the script and I, Tonya’s Craig Gillespie directing. As for the costumes? Jenny Beaven, the Oscar winner behind Mad Max: Fury Road and A Room with a View, is taking the reins.
What will the plot of ‘Cruella’ be about?
The 101 Dalmatians prequel will first introduce the House of de Vil’s future creative director as Estella, a young grifter who arrives in London in the ’70s, determined to make a name for herself in fashion. Her sartorial vibe: Vivienne Westwood in the days of her SEX boutique on the King’s Road. After befriending a pair of thieves and turning criminal to make ends meet, Cruella manages to impress the legendary fashion patron Baroness von Hellman, but the world of high fashion is markedly different than Estella had expected, leading her to morph into the hell-raising Cruella. ‘“There’s so little information about Cruella’s history out there, that it felt quite liberating, but there are nods to the original story [in the film],” director Craig Gillespie told Vogue. “You can see Jasper and Horace, the dognappers, in the trailer, and then Pongo and Perdita’s owners Roger and Anita make an appearance. Cruella’s obsession with Dalmatians is also covered, of course.”
Photo by LAURIE SPARHAM/DISNEY
The King’s Road in the ’70s served as a major frame of reference
“London had a different texture in the ’70s, with all of the grime and the pollution – and the punk movement happening along the King’s Road is a major inspiration for the film. That sense of rebellion against the establishment plays strongly into Cruella. Our production designer Fiona Crombie did an incredible job bringing that period to life, including the London Squatters Movement, which you see in the film. Obviously, there are no longer tonnes of abandoned vacant lots in Notting Hill, so our team recreated one in the studio, down to the gaping holes in the floor. A lot of our shooting happened on location though. There were actually 32 locations around London in total, which is unusual for a film of this size.”
Photo by LAURIE SPARHAM/DISNEY
Alexander McQueen heavily influenced Cruella’s designs
“Cruella has such a rebellious nature, which has ties to Alexander McQueen – for example, the way that he used to make people come to the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ for his shows, pulling them into his world. You really do get Cruella’s whole origin story in the film, from her childhood onward. You see her orphaned on the streets of London, then going into this life of petty crime even though she feels she’s destined to work in fashion – and then finally she gets this opportunity to work for Baroness Von Hellman. The Baroness, in my mind, represents the fashion establishment, designing outfits for the Queen, but she’s been around for a while, and ends up going head-to-head with Cruella both in terms of their style and more generally. And, naturally, that’s really, really fun to watch.”