Jenny Beavan had very detailed descriptions of the dresses she had to design for Cruel, but the challenge was to make them believable. “I tried to give reality to certain dresses. So even though they were crazy, they kind of came out of reality, because I think if the audience can believe it to some degree, they appreciate it more. They connect more. It was a balance. »

Cruel follows a young woman named Estella (Emma Stone) who dreams of being a fashion designer. When she manages to land her dream job as a designer for the Baroness (Emma Thompson), Estella quickly becomes convinced that she deserves more in life. Taking on the persona of Cruella, she becomes a rival to the Baroness with a rebellious sense of fashion.

Below, Jenny Beavan talks about the inspiration and design of two of Cruelthe iconic dresses of.

Limo dress

‘Limo Dress’ costume sketch
Artwork by Thom Botwood

“One of my great memories from the late ’60s, early ’70s is the use of military jackets,” Beavan says. “Mine was a guard jacket and you wore it with jeans, or you wore it with a big skirt. I thought it would be a great image as she got in the car to use this mix of a soft flowy skirt versus this military jacket.

The skirt had to be just the right weight, so A could walk in it, and B could wave it, and it landed in the right place. So there were logistics involved.

There’s an awful lot of man-hours in sewing, gluing, gluing and all, especially in [this dress]. It had the most ridiculous amount of petals all sewn by hand.

But visually, I really wanted that army image versus softness, and then we put it in Doc Martens boots. I remember having knee-high Doc Martens that laced up and it’s just a great picture. It was just for someone trying to make a point, which she certainly was.

Dumpster dress

‘Dumpster Dress’ costume sketch
Artwork by Them Botwood

“This is the third photo bomb when the dump truck backs up as the hapless Baroness is about to deliver her speech. In the original script it says this is the Baroness’ spring 1967 collection that [Cruella]managed to grab and attach to the train. That’s why it had spring colors or pale colors on it. And the newspaper because obviously she’s in a dump truck, so you want trash. But she had to be able to get into the back of the truck and hold on.


The whole thing was put together by the wonderful Kirsten Fletcher, who is an Australian seamstress known for making spectacular clothes. We practiced it in our work room, which was thankfully very large, put one of our cutters in there and ran it around the floor and see if it worked. And he did. So it’s really, it’s actually incredibly simple. Lots of accessories and lots of fabric attached to a very long piece of calico.