Nadia Stacey would like to make the argument that Cruella is the most indie a Disney movie could possibly be. OK, hear the villain's hair and makeup designer out. Coming from an independent film background, working on set of the likes of The Favourite and The Girl with All the Gifts, Stacey knows well how much creative freedom they have. (Read: A lot.) "When you get studios behind you, there are so many people with so many opinions," she explains to Allure. "I kind of felt maybe [a Disney movie] is not the world for me because I like to be a bit kind of edgier."
Emma Stone's take on the iconic Cruella De Vil character is as bold and eccentric as it gets, though. And when the actor herself calls you up to offer you the job of putting together her hair and makeup looks with a '70s, punk aesthetic, how can you say no to Disney? Stacey sure couldn't.
The movie was officially hit theaters and Disney + Premium Access today, but Cruella's beauty moments have already made people's jaws drop — even the young audience the movie was made for. Just the other day, I mentioned this interview to a fifth-grader I often chat with at the dog park. "The makeup looks incredible," she raved excitedly.
One of the most stunning looks just so happened to be the first one Stacey created on set: the classic Cruella moment. I probably don't even need to describe it in detail for you to know what look I'm referring to. The diabolical, dalmatian spot-loving character's smoky eyes, scarlet red lips, black-and-white split hair, and porcelain skin have been cemented into our memories basically since birth. It just so happens to also be the look that helped Stacey feel confident in her new role and realize Disney movies are, in fact, in her wheelhouse.
"When I saw the punk and drag references [the crew put together] and all these very kind of random references for a Disney movie come together in that look on her face, I felt like I was right for this," Stacey calls. "Then, I just kind of kept growing in confidence after that."
As filming went on, Stacey got down the classic Cruella look down in an hour and a half. The most time-consuming part, she admits, was perfecting Stone's hair. Before putting on her Cruella wig, Stacey painted Stone's actual hair the same colors to make it look as realistic as possible.
For Cruella's makeup, Stacey did her best to make it seem like Cruella could do it herself, like this punk girl could transform herself into this otherworldly criminal with her own makeup bag of tricks. The smudgy, sooty element accomplished just that. For this look, in particular, Stacey reached for the MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder. "It looks black, but the blend out is of a smoky gray," she explains. "It's not so harsh."
Below her eyes, Stacey dotted on a beauty mark — a key to pulling together the full Cruella aesthetic. The MAC Liquilast 24-Hour Liner came in handy. "We needed it to stay on, but it really stays on," Stacey laughs. "She'd be scrubbing to get the thing off at the end of the night."
And, of course, the lips were crucial to creating the character. Stacey had a lineup of Cruella-ready red and purple hues to choose from depending on each scene. MAC's Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo was a heavy hitter, as well as the Nars Powermatte Lip Pigment in London Calling (a rich mauve) and Rock With You (a deep eggplant).
My personal favorite beauty moment from the movie is when Cruella's face is blanketed with the The Future in harsh, stenciled letters. Stacey crafted the stencil herself, stuck it onto Stone's face, and airbrushed onyx-hued pigment over it before peeling the letter cutouts off. Despite how complex it looks, Stacey swears it was simple to master. The hard part came in with Cruella's Pat McGrath-esque ruby jeweled lips because, of course, Stacey needed to make things difficult for herself in some way. She wanted to expand her skills and play around with textures after all.
Before Cruella was ever, well, Cruella, she was an aspiring fashion designer named Estella, as seen in the origin story that comprises the plot of this movie. When Stone is just Estella, she's seen with the most stripped-back makeup. Again, "I just needed [viewers] to believe that this is a girl that's living in normal London in the '70s," Stacey explains. "We need to fall in love with Estella. We need to connect to her so that when she starts becoming Cruella, it's exciting, and we're with her."
To do just that for Estella's scenes, Stacey gave Stone a fresh glow with sheer foundation and simple-yet-punky makeup. To put it in other terms, Estella looks like an unmasked version of Cruella.
When Estella first transforms into her devious alter ego, her base makeup is starkly white to represent the fact that she's masking who she really is. (Cruella also wears a literal mask of feathers and stones that Stacey handcrafted herself.) Stacey went three shades lighter than Stone's natural complexion with the Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Liquid Foundation.
Then, the hair and makeup designer dusted white powder on top to solidify the mask-like base. Stacey assured me Stone's love of skin care prevented this intensely porcelain makeup from looking too cakey and flat. A bit of Kevyn Aucoin's radiant The Sensual Skin Enhancer helped, too.
Cruella's foundation gradually becomes less pale as her confidence builds and she begins to accept herself as Cruella, Stacey reveals. "When we get to the end of the film, her foundation color goes back towards Estella's," Stacey continues. "She's becoming herself again."
Cruella is available now in theaters or on Disney+ with Premier Access.
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Originally Appeared on Allure