A Brief Look at Cruella (2021)


The new trailer for the Disney movie Cruella (2021) just dropped and I don’t know what to think, other than I WANT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE DRESSES.

The press says it’s set in the 1970s, but it’s a little hard to say for certain because the looks could just as easily be mid-to-late 1960s haute couture, with a side helping of the heyday of Carnaby Street fashion. So, you know what? I’m just gonna say that unless the movie starts off with “London 1970-whatever”, we’re just going to pretend that it takes place pre-1970 so we can talk about it here on this blog.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of the outfits in the trailer. The costumes were designed by Frock Flicks fave Jenny Beavan and they look absolutely delicious.

First off, we see the future Cruella Devile (Emma Stone) as a Estella de Vil, a young, idealistic red head, and sporting that ubiquitous mid-century mod accessory, the beret.

Next, we see Emma Thompson as Baroness von Hellman, the head of a fashion design house and likely Cruella’s nemesis for top, er, dog.

Cruella makes her entrance in a white satin hooded gown that she promptly sets on fire, revealing a sexy red body hugging gown underneath.

Everyone is blown away by the entrance.

And finally, Cruella is seen rocking a slightly punkish look, and sporting her signature white and black hair. The rest of the shots in the film are of explosions and Cruella looking like she’s been through hell, so they’re not particularly interesting from a costume standpoint.

The original script treatment was written by Aline Brosh, who wrote The Devil Wears Prada, so it’s perhaps not surprising that Cruella looks to be a bit of a retread of that film, except this time the heroine is actually a budding villainess. But whatever it ends up being, it looks like it’ll be fun.


Can you hear Trystan screaming at me that this film isn’t set pre-1969? Whatever! Let’s talk about it in the comments!


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

23 Responses

  1. Sara C.

    I totally get why they would pay homage to the Truman capote black and white ball, which (to support your thesis) happened in 1966. Also the original 101 Dalmatians from Disney is a 1961 movie. Do they make a bunch of references to the moon landing or President Nixon or the end of the Vietnam war? If not, I wonder why they would choose the seventies to reference in the releases. Maybe the press team was all born after 1990 and that just all seems like about the same era to them or something,

    • Sarah Lorraine

      The more info that’s coming out about it, the more it really does appear to be set at some point post-1970, probably mid-70s, with all the references to the punk movement that I’m seeing in articles about the costuming. Just from the trailer, though, it looks ambiguously late-60s/early-70s, so it still sort of fits under Frock Flicks’ pre-1970 rule. We’ve been known to fudge that rule a time or two for movies with exceptionally good 1970s costuming. ;)

      • crypticmirror

        There is a MK2 Ford Granada Estate and the nose of an Austin-Leyland Princess in the clip too, so that does date it to the late seventies, just based on those two cars.

  2. Natasha Rubin

    Cruella quotes the line “I am woman, hear me roar”, from the song “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy which was released in 1971, so it’s definitely the 70s! But I don’t see why you can’t make an exception and talk about it anyway if you want.

  3. Susan Pola Staples

    What if later in the quote on I am woman etc she mentions later the quote was made famous by Ms Redy…Whatever it looks haute couture and I think it should be included bc of Jenny Beavan and I too want Emma Thompson’s black and white gown.

    • Sarah Lorraine

      We love Jenny Beavan, so that’s definitely a major factor in its favor as to whether or not we will analyze the film more closely once it comes out. :)

    • Sarah Lorraine

      I think the more movies that are set in the 1970s that have extensive costuming and not just “we pulled this from some warehouse”, the more likely we are to want to talk about them. We’ve already made a few exceptions over the years, like “Velvet Goldmine” and “Rocket Man”, but I think unless the costuming is REALLY spectacular, they’ll still be largely mentions on this site and not real in-depth analyses.

  4. Rosemary

    What i wanna know is, if this is truly her origin story…how does she go from a fashion icon to wanting to skin puppies alive for a future coat

  5. Karin

    I agree, what can be seen in the trailer looks more like late 60s, also hair and make-up… maybe the story spans a few years?

  6. sophiawyeth

    So this is set after the time that the original animation film was, despite being an origin story? It does look like great fun, though!

  7. Julia Atkinson

    Dodie Smith’s novel was published in 1956 and has a sequel, “The Starlight Barking”, published in 1967. Both were amongst my favourite books when I was a child. I also loved the Mary Poppins series. I know I’ll be in the minority here, but I’m NOT a Disney fan and loathe the way the studio surgically removes the charm and subtlety of every classic they adapt for the screen.

    • Julia Mays

      YES! I’ve never met a single person, ever, who read the original, much less the sequel! Two of my favorite books of all time, containing one of my favorite quotes in all English literature – regarding Pongo, who had “one of the keenest brains in dogdom,” “For though he had very little Latin beyond “Cave canem,” he had, as a young dog, devoured Shakespeare (in a tasty leather binding).”

      The scene with the elderly spaniel still makes me cry.

      Who knew that Pongo had a wife who was NOT Perdita? Or that one of their puppies would grow up to be the Prime Minister’s dog?

      Or that Cruella had a husband who was a furrier, and a white Persian cat who hated her. Or that the dogs destroyed all his fur coat inventory and he had to go into the plastic raincoat business.

      I wonder how they’re going to handle Cruella’s passion for furs in a PETA world?

  8. Lily Lotus Rose

    Neither Emma Stone nor Cruella de Vil get me excited. But…I do LOVE Emma Thompson AND the trailer looks gorgeous… So I say go for it…review your hearts out. Plus, let’s acknowledge that Mark Strong looks like a total snack in that tuxedo!!

  9. hsc

    That scene in the trailer is clearly referencing Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball, but I wonder if Cruella’s red dress is also a nod to Bette Davis in JEZEBEL?