Cruella Hair and Makeup Designer on Daring Looks – The Hollywood Reporter
Before Cruella de Vil became the ruthless villain and dog-hunting fashion designer we all know, she was Estella. At Disney’s Cruella — an origin story of the title character – makeup and hair are crucial storytellers as Estella embarks on her journey to find herself.
Played by Emma Stone, Estella often uses makeup and hair as disguise to cover up the unique parts of herself, like her infamous black and white hair, to better fit into society.
“With simple hair and makeup, it meant that when we first started figuring out who Cruella was, we just had this blank canvas to play with,” shares hair and makeup designer Nadia Stacey The Hollywood Reporter about her process in developing the looks. “She hadn’t really figured out who she was in the fashion world yet. It gave me the ability to constantly change her silhouette, constantly change colors.”
With several punk influences from 1977 London, Stone’s iteration of Cruella is unlike anything we’ve seen before. When it comes to her makeup, she’s bolder than ever – she uses her looks as a way to make a statement. One scene sees the character wearing black eyeshadow, with “Future” written on his eyes.
I’ve worked with Stone before Cruella on the critically acclaimed The favouriteStacey was thrilled to join Cruella Team. “It’s a really nice, creative and safe space to play in,” says Stacey of working with Stone. “And she loves makeup. She was like a kid in a candy store, so she just let me play.”
Stacey is nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling at the 94th Academy Awards, along with the rest of her team Naomi Donne and Julia Vernon. The category also recognizes The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Coming 2 America, Dune and House Gucci. Previously, Stacey won a BAFTA award for her work on The favourite.
Below, Stacey chats with THR about the influences on Cruella’s look, collaborating again with Stone and creating looks for the modernized version of the villain.
When I think of Cruella, her iconic look immediately comes to mind. Where did you start your research for make-up and hair and what were your influences?
It’s an origin story, so you’ve never met Estella in the other versions before. So with Estella, I started thinking about who she was. I thought of this young girl living in London in 1977. What’s going on in society, what music does she listen to? What books does she read? you know something like that I always remembered the character, and I had a feeling she was going to be a pretty simple, minimal girl with a lipstick, some eyeliner, and some mascara. With simple hair and makeup, it meant that when we first started figuring out who Cruella was, all we had was this blank canvas to play with.
And all of those moments where we meet Cruella for the first time, a lot of them are big fashion moments where she stands out and wants to make a difference. So it meant there was no stopping how far we could go. Nothing really felt off the table. I looked at every reference and tried to borrow things from everywhere to bring it together, which also felt very punky.
Cruella’s makeup in the film tells a story as she continues to grow and change as a character. With that in mind, how did you go about creating Emma’s makeup looks, which change throughout the film?
I felt like the hair and makeup had a kind of character of their own because they’re used so often as part of the storytelling process. Right from the start you meet the young Cruella with that black and white hair. Then she has to hide it, she has to dye her hair. And there’s a makeup change, there’s a hair change. She has to dress up because the Baroness knows who Estella is, so she has to dress up again with makeup and hair. It was a way of thinking, “How could you hide?” A lot of the big looks are a kind of mask based on deception.
I liked the idea that she hadn’t really figured out who she was in the fashion world yet. That gave me the opportunity to play. It gave me the ability to continuously change her silhouette [and] constantly changing colors. Nothing felt like we had to stick to “oh she’d only wear dark lipstick.” Like when she comes out of the garbage truck, when she throws away all the clothes, she throws away the spring collection from the baroness. So I thought, “Well, if it’s the spring collection, then the makeup should be pink and blue and yellow and lighter colors.” But when she’s on the bike and she’s got the “Future” makeup on her face, it looks more difficult. Then it can be black and red and harder colors. So it’s all in the script for you to find, and that’s how you interpret it. Her makeup was like a character in her own right.
It’s a modernized version of Cruella’s story – how did you make that shine through?
I think punk played a big part in that. It was such a big movement in London in 1977. I really think that contributed massively to the looks because punk is a mismatch of many different looks. The general essence and aesthetic of punk definitely played into the looks because I would take something like an 18th century wig but then mess it up and put it on slightly askew so it wasn’t the same. I think off The favourite it made me brave to do it because it was a historical piece, but we also put something into it The favourite that was not correct. We kind of blurred the lines. So I think I had the courage to do it before to try again. And I always wanted it to be somehow understandable. I wanted people to look at Estella’s looks and be inspired by them.
What was it like working with Emma again after that? The favourite?
She’s just so great. It’s so fun and so simple. We have a lot of fun together. It’s a really beautiful, creative and safe place to play. And she loves makeup. She loves makeup and products and is quite obsessed with it. So she was like a kid in a candy store, so she just let me play. It was really good and so awesome to see her morph into this character because that’s some big shoes to fill and I thought she just did a great job.
Cruella expresses herself through her looks, be it her hair, makeup, and outfits. What do you hope audiences took away from this message of using fashion and beauty to make a statement?
Well I was absolutely blown away by the response to what the hair and makeup did. What was really nice is that I always felt in the film that she grew in confidence over time. Her looks got bigger and she got bolder. [Her makeup] gave her the confidence to be herself. And in the end, instead of hiding behind those masks, she’s wearing that beauty makeup the last time we see her. It’s still her Cruella look, but it’s beautiful. She has accepted herself and says, “I’m here. I’m Cruella.” And even if her friends don’t like it, she says, “I am.”
Obviously, at the time, you couldn’t even imagine that something like this would happen. I had never worked on anything that had this kind of exposure before. So I didn’t know it would, but I’ve received so many beautiful messages from people who said they were struggling to be who they are. And a lot of people who do cosplay and stuff like that to dress up as a character and become someone else and create a personality really helps them. Because we were in lockdown I guess everyone didn’t care about makeup right? So it was really exciting to see and really nice that people also made their own interpretations of the looks.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.