The secrets of the costumes of

The secrets of the costumes of

The three-time Oscar-winning designer talks about the film’s most remarkable outfits, including a red gala gown inspired

by Charles James’ “tree” dress, and an extraordinary skirt adorned with over 5,000 hand-embroidered petals.

Is there a cooler costume designer than Jenny Beavan? We doubt it! The British septuagenarian has made the world

talk about her, thanks to the Oscar she received in 2022 for her extraordinary work on Mad Max: Fury Road (2022)

the nightmarish dystopia signed by George Miller. At the ceremony, she appeared on the stage in jeans, wearing a

biker jacket on her back with a burning skull adorned with jewels. Despite the perplexed looks and the rather shy

applause, Jenny Beavan did not blink. It must be said that this was not the first Oscar she received: previously,

she had won the award for Room with a View (1985) and was nominated for The Boston Girls (1984), Maurice (1987),

Return to Howards End (1992), The Remains of the Day (1993), Sense and Sensibility (1995), Anna and the King (1999),

Gosford Park (2022) as well as for The King’s Speech (2010). His incredible career, for screen and stage, has spanned

more than half a century. Disney

But despite this impressive experience, his latest assignment was a daunting one: designing the costumes for

Cruella, Craig Gillespie’s film about the origins of Cruella de Vil, in which the fur-bitten super-villain

is played by Emma Stone. The action takes place in London, in the midst of the punk revolution of the late

1970s. Aspiring fashion designer Estella (Emma Stone) catches the eye of fashion powerhouse Baroness von Hellman

(Emma Thompson). Their relationship is the beginning of a series of events that will turn young Estella into

the ruthless Cruella, causing her to trade in her minimalist ensembles for red gala dresses, sequined motocross

pants, extravagant military jackets, and billowing skirts covered in hand-embroidered petals. Fashion thus

becomes a weapon she will use to dethrone the Baroness and challenge the establishment.

As Cruella was awarded the Oscar for Best Costume Design 2022, we sat down with Jenny Beavan to talk about

the references she drew on, her memories of London in the 1970s, and her favorite outfits from the film.

Designing Cruella’s costumes must be an extraordinary mission. How did this opportunity come about?

Through producer Kristin Burr, who I had worked with on another Disney film, Christopher Robin [2022]. I had

heard about Cruella and I knew Emma Stone was in it, but I didn’t think I would be asked to do it. What happened

was that they had an opening in Emma’s schedule, and they scheduled the shoot at a time when not many people

were available, and I was. Kristin wrote me a message asking me what my current plans were. I quickly met [director]

Craig Gillespie in London after a first reading of the script, I was like “Wow, this is huge”. I’m working

with some really amazing teams in London, and one of them was available, so we just went for it. Disney

The film is set in London in the 1970s. What references did you rely on?

I lived through that time. I was more into theater than fashion at the time – set design, scenery, but

I remember the clothes I wore, even if they weren’t particularly exuberant. I couldn’t afford Vivienne

Westwood, and even Biba was a little over my budget. After reading the script, I made a list of what I

needed for each character and started printing pictures. In terms of references, there were tons, including

Vivienne Westwood [singer] Nina Hagen, [fashion brand] Bodymap and Alexander McQueen.

Is it true that you went to thrift stores in London, New York and Los Angeles to get vintage clothes for

fittings with Emma Stone?

“Cruella wears 47 outfits in the film and in the story, so she would have gone to the thrift stores, especially

before she was rich. We went to the costume suppliers, who have a good supply of 1970s clothing, but it

was also interesting to go to the Portobello Road flea market in London. Then we had to go to Los Angeles

for fittings with Emma Stone. I had been to a vintage fair called A Current Affair when it was in LA,

and I found out that there was one in Brooklyn, so we stopped there. We did another session in LA and

by that time we had ten suitcases full of outfits for Emma. We sorted everything by look, started fitting,

looked at what worked and what didn’t, and photographed everything.

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We see one of those standout moments in the trailer, Cruella wears a white cape that catches fire and reveals

a red gala dress underneath. How did you compose this look?

It was in the script, and I wanted to have if it was possible. There are flammable threads and fabrics

that catch fire without killing the actor or actress wearing them, but we resorted to special effects.

The dress underneath is made from an old Baroness dress, it’s part of the story. Cruella finds it in a

thrift store, and in the blink of an eye she transforms it into an extraordinary dress that is deconstructed

and reconstructed. It is inspired by Charles James’ ‘Tree’ dress. Costume designer Ian Wallace, who is

a genius, thought it was bold, it’s a bit of a stretch, but you’d think there was enough fabric on the

original dress to make this new dress. We designed the original dress as well by matching it with a stole,

so it works from a fabric quantity standpoint.

Other stunning moments include Cruella’s outfit when she is on top of a car with a long skirt and a pink

jacket with miniature horses and chariots embroidered on the shoulders. What is the story behind this garment?

This jacket is a work of art. I had found a jacket that would have done the job, but we decided to replicate

it. The whole idea of the frilly skirt is that it could cover the Baroness’ car. It had to be huge and

light enough to wear, but also heavy enough to fly around the car. It was a real challenge, because it

was way too heavy. In the end, Kirsten Fletcher, a costume designer extraordinaire, made it, and many students

came to help sew the petals in my shop. Apparently there are 5060 petals in all. Disney

Baroness von Hellman’s look is very different from Cruella’s. What are her influences? 

It’s pretty influenced by Dior, and she’s pretty old school, so more like 1950s and 1960s. She’s a good designer,

but she’s a little bit outdated, which is what allows Cruella to come in with an innovative, more fun approach to

fashion. We wanted the Baroness to have a real sense of elegance that shines through in all her designs. I worked

with a wonderful costume designer, Jane Low, who has a studio in Worthing, in the south of England. I would drive

my car full of fabric, put it all on the floor, and then we would play with our model, trying drapes, pleats, coming

up with ideas. Later, we met with Emma [Thompson] for fittings.

What is your favorite costume from the film?

There’s a little Chihuahua that wears a rat suit: Puma Platform Trainers Trace Asos Triple Shoes Sneakers Casual Lyst Elementor . I think that’s the one!


Cruella will be released in theaters on June 23, 2021

Discover in exclusivity the behind-the-scenes of these incredible costumes in video :



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