Mariana: We are gathered here today to review Cruella’s costumes, darling! More specifically, the costumes of Disney’s most recent film: Cruella. Hello Jada, thank you for joining me in this great piece; I am so glad to review this film together!
Jada: Hi Mariana! We’re going to have so much fun! I’m excited to be reviewing this with you too.
Mariana: Let’s get started by sharing our overall thoughts on the film. What did you think about the movie?
Jada: I loved the movie! I thought it would be more similar to the original story we saw in older Cruella movies, but then once I really looked into it, I learned that it was supposed to be Cruella’s backstory, so it started to make more sense. But everything from the fashion to the plot to the entire cast. It was just fantastic!
Mariana: Yeah, same here! First of all, I am a huge Disney fan, so as soon as I saw that Disney was making this film, I was like OMG! I was not expecting the plot to turn out like that! And then I saw that Jenny Beavan would be the costume designer: OH MY GOD x 200!! Also, I really enjoyed how they referenced the animated movie, which I love, and the whole production was flawless. Every single character was so well casted, and the way they tell the story through fashion was just fascinating…
Jada: Yes, there were plot twists at every turn!
Mariana: What a great movie. I could watch it again and again! So let’s start our review with Cruella’s costumes; which one was your favorite one?
Jada: There were a few costumes that really stood out to me. This one in particular, which I’m pretty sure is everyone’s favorite, is the dress from the garbage truck scene. It’s so amazing! It’s made with pieces of newspaper articles about her. I thought that was such great detail. And I was reading that the train on the dress is 40 feet long. That’s insane! It was very heavy, of course, so it wasn’t attached to the dress and was added on at the last minute, but I thought it was just so pretty. Her costumes are really out there, and her style is so…in your face!
Mariana: This dress was mind-blowing! It shows the character at its climax: arriving on a garbage truck to a gala, what an entrance! And speaking of the dress itself, the bodice is so perfectly tailored as well, so beautiful!
Jada: It is beautiful! And I like how they presented a lot of the dresses in this movie. Like with this one, the way that she falls out of the truck was perfect. The dress was revealed as trash, but in reality, it’s the complete opposite.
Mariana: Yes! The way she appears from under the dresses is so great, so magical. And I would like to add something insane about this creation, the 40 feet long train was actually a patchwork made from one of the Baroness’s old, outdated collections! “One woman’s trash is another’s a treasure.”
Jada: Oh wow, it literally is another woman’s treasure! haha
Mariana: Something similar happened with the red flame dress, which we had a glimpse of in the trailer. It was a Baroness’ old design, but she transformed it and made it 100 times more stunning.
Jada: I also loved how they revealed this dress. It shows how innovative she is. Cruella truly made a statement. I call this next dress the military petal dress. It has a military-style jacket with a long ombre skirt. My favorite part of the costume is the hidden decorations. If you zoom in super close to the coat, you’ll see that on the epaulets (shoulder pieces), there are mini horses and carriage pieces. It’s a very royal look. And even if you look at her hair, it’s styled into a crown. I absolutely love that!
Mariana: Oh my God! I didn’t see that before; I love it! There’s also a lot of punk in her style, and this one is the perfect blend between Punk and Royalty. I really love how Jenny incorporated many John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, and even Alexander McQueen in Cruella’s costumes. And this is also an extremely long skirt, so dramatic!
Jada: I couldn’t find the exact length, but I know that it was apparently one of the most challenging looks to make, and it involved so many people. Mariana: It had over 5,000 hand-sewn flowers. Unbelievable and highly fantastic! Can you imagine how much time it took?
“I think at one point I saw 12 people sitting around the table — students and trainees — hand-stitching petals,” says Beavan referring to the “Military Petal Dress“
Jada: 5,000 hand-sewn flowers!? That must have taken forever. I wonder how long it took to make next this next look which I absolutely love! It’s the “Dalmatian fur” coat. It’s a high-low asymmetrical coat with faux leather and a “Dalmation fur” print. I loved how this was the only dalmatian look in the movie. It was like an ode to 101 Dalmations while still staying true to the plot of this one.
Mariana: Absolutely, it’s like she’s coming to what we know as Cruella with this stunning coat! And here’s an important quote: “please rest assured: No animals were harmed in or during the making of this movie.”
Jada: Yes! That is very important to note! And the last costume on my list that really stood out to me also happens to be the very last costume in the film. It was a simple all-black look: A black tweed blazer with pointed shoulder pads and cape sleeves that attach in the back. I LOVE cape sleeves. Anything with cape sleeves on them I’ll fall in love with, haha. The blazer is also paired with black fitted pants and faux leather gloves. I really liked how sleek it was. The costume was significantly toned down compared to her other looks, but something about it was so bold and fierce. I was just so captivated by it.
Left to right: 1. Emma Stone as Cruella De Vil in Disney’s Cruella wearing the Motorcycle outfit. Photo: © Disney. 2. Emma Stone as Cruella De Vil in Disney’s Cruella wearing the Leather Suit. Photo: © Disney. 3. Pictured in centre, the Butterfly Dress in Disney’s Cruella. Photo: © Disney
Mariana: I feel that moment when she’s walking into the mansion with such determination is so powerful, and her costume is just enhancing that. I will just add two more to Cruella’s list, first the motorcycle costume. The leather jacket and sparkly gold pants look from out of this planet! The texture from the leather jacket is imitating the motorcycle tires, kind of going back to the concept with the garbage dress; she can make an outfit out of anything! And also, her broad shoulders presented here definitely give her more authority. It just bothered me that it only appeared on screen for a couple of minutes!
Jada: I wish there were more time to take in all of the costumes.
Mariana: Yeah! And the last one I liked was the leather skirt and suit. The leather was actually a checkered pattern, which is incredible, and both pieces are so well-tailored. Also, this is her second appearance as Cruella, so without causing too much drama, she looks elegant, powerful but subtle at the same time since I think it has a little bit of Estella.
Jada: I remember a scene in the movie where she walked down the street with Dalmatians in that outfit, and it was so cool. There was so much power in one scene.
Mariana: And to finish our Cruella’s round, although this is actually an Estella creation: The butterfly dress. What a masterpiece! Imagine the people who made that for the film, such a talented crew.
Jada: Very talented! I wonder if anyone wore the dress behind the scenes or what it would’ve been like if the Baroness or Cruella would’ve worn it in the movie. Maybe it was just too perfect for anyone to wear it.
Mariana: Too bad they didn’t get to wear it because it destroyed itself! With that, we finish Cruella’s costumes (we mentioned pretty much all of them). I want to add that I also loved Estella’s costumes. They were not as stunning, but Estella’s style is so punk, fashionista, and elegant, it’s brilliant. I love how storytelling and character creation work so well with these costumes.
Jada: Yes, you can really see her transformation from Estella to Cruella. As you said, they definitely did a great job with storytelling.
Mariana: Let’s dive into the Baroness costumes, shall we?
Jada: Her two-toned black and white dress is stunning! I loved this dress because it reminded me of Cruella’s fake Dalmatian fur coat. It felt like they were paralleling each other where Cruella’s version was more punk and edgy, whereas the Baroness’ was more elegant and classy. And we have to talk about the collar! It was so dramatic. It looked like a sculpture!
Mariana: A lot of drama! And how clean it looks! Of course, it’s white, but the asymmetric neckline is flawless…. She is wearing it with such elegance, and her eye mask and accessories match perfectly. The next one on my list is her “going to work outfit.” It is a brown dress with a gold jacket, and that jacket has a similar dramatic collar; although it’s more subtle, the shape and the drama are there. This is actually the costume she is wearing when she finds the talented Estella.
Jada: Yes, that is the look! It’s one of the first times that we see the Baroness other than when Cruella was a child, so the costume establishes her character and personality very well. You can tell that she’s very into high fashion and is well respected in the fashion industry. And I read that Jenny got a lot of inspiration from Dior, which I can definitely see in this.
Mariana: Yes! Absolutely!
Jada: The Baroness’ red carpet look is definitely on my list. It’s a cream-colored, side gathered dress with an asymmetrical neckline. And it gave me Alexander McQueen vibes because of the fan-like piece in the back. It was just so abstract.
Mariana: And the textile they use in that costume is so beautiful and delicate, is it jacquard?
Jada: It appears so, but unfortunately, I could not get close enough to see the actual print.
Mariana: It has that beautiful train falling behind her…
Jada: It does! It creates a dramatic waterfall drape effect.
Mariana: Such a diva! Do you have ANOTHER favorite one?
Jada: Of course! Haha. This dress was very simple, similar to how Cruella’s last look in the film was. It was an all-black, one-shoulder dress. However, it had a horn-like piece, or as you said, a spiral, attached to it. And I thought it was interesting that, if we think back to the Baroness’ two-toned dress with the asymmetrical collar, it looked like some of the dresses were trying to focus more on her face or aim towards her face rather than the actual dress. You mentioned earlier how we see many of her costumes from the waist up, which may have been their intention.
Mariana: Emma Thompson’s facial expressions are so great, so I guess they focus a lot on her face and character creation. As much as for Cruella, it was like the long dramatic trains and broad shoulders. For the Baroness, it was more her face, neck, shoulders, and hands. Actually, the next piece that I want to point out is a turban she wears with different outfits, making her look marvelous—also, most of the time accompanied by gloves that give her that final elegant touch.
Jada: She does! That costume looked very professional. Everything about her is so organized.
Mariana: There are many bold shapes that we don’t expect, and they worked so perfectly for her. Whenever she is not wearing the turban, her hair is made up, so it creates this column effect and gives her authority. They did a brilliant job.
Jada: They did. And this last look was a little different than most of the costumes we’ve seen. It’s a metallic blue and gray dress. It had these long draped sleeves, which I LOVE, and a silver piece on the front, too, resembling an armor plate. It looked like it was inspired by medieval times.
Mariana: Yes, that’s what I thought! I related a lot to one of Cersei’s costumes in Game of Thrones. As soon as I saw that dress, I said: YES! This is armor because she’s protecting herself!
Jada: Oh wow, I didn’t even make that connection!
Mariana: Yeah, she has to protect herself somehow. So, she has chains, the metallic piece, and the collar is high, which at the same time can mean that she is choking herself with her actions. There’s a lot of symbolism. Most of her costumes are black, brown, gold, and then this grey is kind of the coolest tone she wears. I think that works well for storytelling purposes because it has the same meaning; at this point, she’s doomed, and there is no way she can get out of here…
Jada: Yeah, that’s true. It’s almost as if the costumes were giving us a warning as to what was coming.
Mariana: I have to say that I think it’s my favorite movie it’s going to be one of my favorite movies for a very long time until someone else or something different
Jada: Oh yes, that’s what I said as soon as I finished the movie!
Mariana: Both of the characters have such dramatic costumes. The Baroness had a lot of asymmetrical, avant-garde, architectural costumes stylishly. And then Cruella has a lot of out of the ordinary (also avant-garde) but with her own identity and creative vibe.
Jada: They do! I love how opposite they are; it’s almost like they incorporate each other’s personalities and styles into their costumes. For example, they both feature a lot of asymmetry in their outfits which could be seen as more disorderly and Cruella-like, but they also both wear gloves which could be seen as more delicate and the Baroness’ style. So it’s cool to see them use these elements in a unique way that fits their character.
Mariana: Absolutely! Also, I heard in an interview with Jenny Beavan that her research was picking at her memory because she grew up in London in the seventies. So she was just going back to what was in trend, what she wore, and how people wore things. And also, she mentioned she was surprised she got picked for this film because she doesn’t have a fashion background like other costume designers. Still, since she grew up in London and is extremely talented, everything connected so well and ended up being perfect.
Jada: Oh wow! I’m so thankful that she was picked for this because she did fantastically! One of the best things about costume design is when you can really take inspiration from your own experiences so that must have been so great for her to do. I remember reading that Jenny’s favorite costume is the rat costume for the dog. It’s just so cute.
Mariana: OMG, that is adorable! Such a great character, that tiny dog, I loved it! I can’t imagine how it was fitting that costume though, haha… We could keep on talking about these costumes forever…
Jada: Did you have any final closing thoughts?
Mariana: I’ll say that this film fulfilled my designer spirit. All the textures, silhouettes and colors are just magical… Everything was perfect, I enjoyed every single piece of it, and I want to thank Jenny Beavan and her entire wardrobe team for giving us such amazing costumes! To be honest, I am still taking in everything that I saw in this movie.
Jada: Exactly! Now I have to go back and watch everything again and study it, haha. I don’t even have anything else to say. The movie speaks for itself! Like everyone just has to go and watch it. It’s perfect in every way!
Mariana: Well, thank you for your time! For sharing your thoughts and passion for costumes with me! I had a great time!
Jada: Thank you so much for letting me collaborate with you!
Mariana: If we didn’t make this clear already, please go and watch this movie! You can find it on Disney+ with Premiere Access or in the theatres. And, if you are a nerd like us and need more in-depth conversation about the costumes, please go and listen to The Art of Costume Blogcast.