How Cruella Hair & Makeup Artist Nadia Stacey Made Disney Punk

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Hiding her hairfor which she is teased as a childwith red dye, Emma Stone as Cruella grows into her true identity and reveals her stark black-and-white hairstyle over the course of the film, while working under the tutelage of the Baroness (Emma Thompson), a chic British fashion designer. The feat was accomplished thanks to hair and makeup designer Nadia Stacey, who had previously worked with Stone on The Favourite, and jumped right back in to concoct the looks for every character in Craig Gillespie's vision for the 2021 film. Calling from the United Kingdom, Stacey revealed her main reference points and sources of inspiration for Cruella's bold hair and makeup looks. How did you get involved with doing the hair and makeup for Cruella?

Through Emma. We'd worked together on The Favourite and stayed friends since then. I was deciding on another project and thought I'd spend the weekend thinking about it, but on that Saturday night I was at home and got a phone call. Emma said, Do you want to do Cruella? We're making a Disney film. It's set in the 70s, and she's got a punk rock background, and Craig Gillespie is directing. I just thought, you can't say no to that! I very quickly said yes.

Everybody knows about the animated version of Cruella de Vil, and most are familiar with Glenn Close's portrayal of her in the 1996 live action version of 101 Dalmatians. In both, we see Cruella as having a black-and-white skunk hairstyle. How did you manage to put your own unique spin on her iconic hairdo?

Craig didn't want us to attach ourselves to anything that had happened before, and since it was an origin story, that allowed us the freedom to do so. He said early on that it's a story about a girl in London in the 70s, which took away the pressure of thinking about what the fans would like, or trying to make her look like the Glenn Close version. So we started from scratch. Because the story is about Estella creating Cruella, and creating who we know will become this fashion icon, it allowed me to do what I wanted. The black-and-white hair was really the only rule, if you like, from Disney; the producers said as long as we had the black and white on the right side, we could do what we like. A lot of it has to do with the time period, too. The whole punk movement was about going against the grain, against the establishment, against the status quo in London. They turned fashion, hair, and makeup on its head. I cherish that punk explosion so much that the spirit was in me to say, let's do something different.

In the film, you realize Estella is keen on pulling these very elaborate fashion stunts and pranks on the Baroness (Emma Thompson), establishing herself as synonymous with the future of fashion. In fact, one look involves the words The Future spray-painted across her face. Where did that idea come from?

We had to figure out how to portray her being the future of fashion in these flash moments on screen. They needed to be impactful. I thought about it so long. What could she do that's so different? I knew she'd turn up on a motorbike, and had seen the costume and how it involved leather and was masculine. On the wall, one of my references was the Sex Pistols album Never Mind the Bollocks. I was thinking about the future, then thought it would be crazy if I just wrote the future on her face. Craig was like, let's try it and see if it works. So I found the font, typed it in, and cut it out to make a stencil and spray-painted it across the face. I wanted those moments to have a mask-like quality because she is hiding [who she really is] from the Baroness. I was inspired by the Pistols, the spirit of punk, and being brave enough to not worry what people think.

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