Oscar winner for “Room with a view” then “Mad Max: Fury Road”, Jenny Beavan is today behind the incredible outfits of “Cruella”. She talks about this experience and her way of working.
In Cruella, a live-action prequel dedicated to the villainous 101 Dalmatians, it is thanks to her that Emma Stone and Emma Thompson wear such sublime outfits: Jenny Beavan, British costume designer twice Oscar winner, for her work on Room with a View and Mad Max Fury Road.
While waiting to know if he will allow him to make the pass of three, next year, Jenny Beavan looks back on the Cruella experience and the approach to her job.
DashFUN: How did you get involved in “Cruella”?
Jenny Beavan : I knew the project existed, especially because I worked on Disney films [Jean-Christophe & Winnie et Casse-Noisette, ndlr] and people were talking about it. I never thought I’d get involved because, to be completely honest, fashion isn’t my thing. I’m a storyteller with clothes, and fashion is secondary to me. I always thought that I was going to become a decorator in the theater. So everything about clothes and costumes was kind of the second half of what I thought my career would be.
But it was Kristin Burr, one of the producers of Jean-Christophe & Winnie, texted me and asked if I was free at the time, and then I met Craig Gillespie [le réalisateur, ndlr]. I think they found themselves in a situation where they had an opportunity with Emma Stone because her schedule got loose and they suddenly needed someone. The preparation was very short. It is also possible that other people wisely refused.
After much thought, I decided to do it anyway. And even if this world of fashion did not suit me, I could use it as in a story. And I lived through the 70s, so I remember it very well. Wonderful things came back to me during this process. And there were a lot of references, wonderful photographs and fashion magazines. I had plenty to explore.
I am a storyteller with clothes.
You are no stranger to complex costumes, for having worked on “Mad Max: Fury Road”. But “Cruella” contains some amazing looks. What were your inspirations for their design?
There was something very clear about the storyline, not least the rivalry of the two main characters. La Baronne is for me a very good designer, without a doubt. But it’s slightly past its expiration date. It’s still a bit trendy, probably still appeals to a large audience of older women. But Cruella represents just the opposite: the rebel, the kid who comes from a pretty dreadful background, but who has a sort of wit and love of fashion, design, clothing and assembly.
And his story arc in the script was wonderful to follow. We discover her very small, what we had never seen before, using the clothes in her mother’s laundry basket to dress herself. A beautiful moment where you could see how a young child could do something inventive. And then we see her then learning, becoming a designer.
At first the idea was to combine vintage elements, like we all did in the 70s, and with the influence of military stuff that you inappropriately associate with jeans or frilly skirts or whatever. And then I wanted to take her to outfits closer to Glenn Close. It was fascinating as a process.
You’ve created 47 looks just for the character of Emma Stone. How did you proceed, and in particular for this magnificent red dress (above) ?
To start with, I have the most talented team we can have, including five amazing people with very specific skills. And an employee who found, in a vintage store, the perfect outfit for the red dress that was mentioned in the script, in a ball scene where the theme is black and white.
I wanted a Charles James Tree dress, that is, with twisted fabric bands. We of course tried to design the original dress that she cuts …