Article | ‘Cruella’ and the revitalization of the 1970s punk aesthetic

Walt Disney Studios has raised the bar on the wave of live-action remakes by announcing a feature film from one of history’s most iconic characters: Cruella de Vil.

The ‘101 Dalmatians’ antagonist has become, since her big screen debut in 1961, one of House Mouse’s most well-constructed – and one of the most evil, without a shadow of a doubt. The fashion guru, owner of an English house whose main brand was animal skins, decided to turn to a horde of Dalmatians to take a new step in her unstoppable psychopathy. It’s no surprise that she has been revisited several times, taken in spin-off animations and one of House Mouse’s first live action with Glenn Close playing the villain.

Obviously, the acclaimed actress immortalized the character with a spectacular rendering (and one of the only positive points of the two films released between the years 1990 and 2000). So how would things be different?

Emma Stone as Cruella

Craig Gillespie, who was in charge of the directing of ‘Cruella’, had a very clear vision from the start: in addition to bringing to life a narrative that introduced a new side of the main character, he teamed up with Jenny. Beavan, known for her award-winning work. as a costume designer on ‘Mad Max: The Fury Road’, for a fashion makeover that moved away from the usual mid-century haute couture to introduce the punk-rock aesthetic, one of the major transgressions goes to against mainstream British culture.

At first, it is remarkable that Beavan’s inspiration came from the artistic forays into the 2015 artwork, whether it was due to the representative ambivalence of leather, or the power of futuristic clothing that worked with the post-scenario. apocalyptic. However, we are not dealing with a dystopian atmosphere – quite the contrary: we are in the transition between the heyday and the decline of the British fashion houses of the 1970s, where the lack of accessibility and the creative plateau have took precedence over the great minds of the time. . And it is in this turning panorama that Cruella, masterfully interpreted by Emma Stone, realizes that it is time to place herself as one of the symbols of the future.

Since the first appearance of the protagonist, née Estella, there is an appreciation for the crime. The young woman, in love with designs and a future as a stylist, was grounded in her own convictions and did not let others dictate her rules – which is why she did not care about the two-tone hair or the jacket on purpose. adorned with excess. , she always has, standing out amid the amalgamation of wine from her colleagues’ uniforms; later, having lost his mother in a tragic “accident”, he joins two thieves and begins to make disguises in order to steal what he can to survive, but always using fashion as a guide.

It wasn’t long before Cruella crossed paths with Baroness (Emma Thompson), a renowned and narcissistic designer who, in fact, comes across as what little strength the protagonist needed to emerge from his cocoon and claim the throne that belonged to him. It all comes down to the relentless appearances of Estella’s alter-ego in the most flamboyant way possible, whether in a purple dress at a black-and-white party or a DIY montage of wasted fabric, posing on a garbage truck. All the forays (including the metalinguistic makeup L’Avenir on the face) start from the revolutionary moment already mentioned in the 1970s.

Emma Stone as Cruella in Disney’s live-action CRUELLA. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.

More than just disobedience, punk started out as “a proclamation and an embrace of discord”. Gaining space in a scenario whose socio-political uncertainties and weaknesses resulted from post-war consequences – and supported by artists like Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, for example – the main criticisms came in response to the boredom of culture. which was in vogue (that is, elitist ideologies which no longer had their place among the new generation and which represented a setback in practically all layers of the community). Of course, punk started in New York City, but it may have reached its peak in London, which has remained one of the centers of attention on the planet.

Cruella and the baroness, in this spectrum, are the two opposing lines of force that clash in the film: obviously, the baroness is the representation of a bourgeoisie that still believes itself in power, but so caught up in its own lies that ‘she doesn’t realize that a tsunami is coming; all the hypocrisy and iconography idolized by those who held the domain of society collide with Cruella’s devilish originality: like punk, no one understands exactly what they want, but everyone is drawn to the visceral violence of the finds it presents. Her public appearances are sublimated by explosive choreography, costumes ranging from the most fluid dress to the sensuality of leather, threatening the Baroness’ fashion empire and finding allies in the most marginalized layers (see Artie, performed by John McCrea).

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Of course, the more classic symbols of the punk aesthetic don’t come out so clearly in ‘Cruella’, but it’s remarkable how messages of rebellion and nonconformity emerge from virtually every side of the narrative. And while it has its flaws, live-action has already achieved such popularity by relating with such affection to those who understand the need for change and who know the rules must be broken.

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