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The Look of Cruella DeVil

Costume designer Anthony Powell certainly had his work cut out designing the costumes for "102 Dalmatians." Not only did he have a great deal more outfits to design for Cruella, but he also faced the challenge of creating a look for the outrageous French fashion designer Jean Pierre Le Pelt. In fact, he created the look for every single character, including probation officer Chloe Simon, dog shelter owner Kevin Shepherd and all the models in Le Pelt's fashion show.

"In many ways this film was remarkably challenging because it had twice as many costume changes for Glenn Close," says Powell. "Because Glenn spends half the film not being Cruella, but Ella who is politically correct and does not wear fur, I had to be very clever and inventive. Each of Ella's costumes had to have a story and a joke," he explains.

It was director Kevin Lima who Powell found most stimulating in helping create a completely different look for the rehabilitated Cruella, or rather Ella. "Kevin has a wonderful sense of taste and style, perhaps coming from his animation background where you have to create everything including the look of the character," says Powell. "We talked extensively about how Cruella should look, particularly the hair. Cruella has wild hair, but this wouldn't fit in with the new politically correct Ella. So Kevin and I decided that she should look like those New York ‘ladies who lunch' and that her hair should be lacquered to within an inch of its life. He said that her hair should be like a biker's ‘crash helmet' with Cruella almost a prisoner inside."

This thought process is very evident when we first see Ella at the beginning of the film, as she is about to leave prison. Even though Ella seems to have replaced the evil Cruella, the character has not lost her style or appreciation of the finer things in life.

"We deliberately made the other female prisoners look as dreadful as possible," says Powell. "In fact, I modeled their uniforms on research I'd done many years ago for ‘Papillion' with Steve McQueen. We have made all the other prisoners wear men's boots and uniforms that are completely shapeless, almost sacks. In contrast, you have Cruella/Ella in her haute couture tailored outfit, complete with Chanel type jewelery, gilt manacles and gilt handcuffs with pearls and diamonds. And then of course, there's the hair."

Audiences can see no better example of the humor and irony of Cruella's transformation, than in the ‘nun's habit' which she wears as she actually leaves the prison gates and is met by trusty valet, Alonso (Tim McInnerny).

"I never thought that anyone would buy the idea, because it is so outrageous," laughs Powell. "I thought I'd gone too far with this one as she actually is dressed as a couture nun. Then, as an added joke, when you see her back at home just in the dress itself, you see that it is based on a French curé in reverse tones. But, when she turns around you can see that it's completely backless, in other words here we get a sense that the old Cruella has not gone completely."

But, of course the look of the character isn't just about the clothes, Ella/Cruella is as much about hair and make-up. To achieve this distinctive look, the production welcomed back the unique talents of wig maker/hair designer Martial Corneville and make-up artist Jean-Luc Russier, both of whom were instrumental in creating Glenn Close's look as Cruella in "101 Dalmatians."

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