Cruella Hair Nadia Stacey
Avant Garde

Cruella: Hair Artist Nadia Stacey’s Inspiration Behind Those Incredible Looks

by eleanor / last updated June 24, 2021

Cruella hair and make-up designer, Nadia Stacey, talks to HJ about creating the amazing hair moments on Emma Stone for Disney’s latest release, Cruella

Cruella Hair with Nadia Stacey:

What was your starting point for creating Cruella’s character through the hair?

It was mainly the era we were set in. Punk exploded onto the streets at that time and the looks were so big that you couldn’t ignore it, and I wanted to do the same for her looks. I was inspired by Debbie Harry of Blondie for the Estella look, and a German singer called Nina Hagen. For Cruella, I wanted to keep changing the style and messing with classic shapes so I looked a lot at avant garde hair shows, high fashion runway shows like Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood. They all seem to take classic period styles and make them their own so I wanted to do the same.

Can you share the process of developing Emma Stone’s looks for the key moments in the film?

I always go by script so I think about the moment and what’s happening. So, for example, when we see her crash the fashion shows I needed her looks to be impactful. I work closely with the costume designer to see what she is wearing for each scene. For example, the red dress at the black and white ball was very high up in the neck, so the hair needed to be shorter and sit above the dress, so there’s always lots of consider.

I always wanted to keep the black and white separate from each other so I never merged the colours together. I like the idea that she plays around with her style all the time so adding length with pieces or changing the curls or the texture. Obviously, because of the story line of her changing from Estella to Cruella, she had to wear wigs so I had a lot of freedom to change the styles. I just wanted every look to be different because she is an ever-evolving character, that’s why drag was a big reference too because they create their own personas.

You also designed the make-up for the film. What is it like covering both hair and make-up for a production?

I’ve always done both. In the UK, we don’t tend to split the departments so you have to be able to do both, and a designer will normally cover both. I couldn’t work any other way because I think about a character as a whole so the look has to be so cohesive for me. I like to create a character from scratch and the design the whole look.

What is the backstory behind Cruella’s black and white hair?

Well her [Estella’s] natural hair is black and white and she dyes it red to try and fit in, but when she starts to find herself and develop Cruella, she goes back to her roots (literally) and embraces the black and white. It’s a sign of empowerment and confidence in the film; she’s accepting who she is. At first the black and white is used as a tool of deception when she goes to the Baroness’ ball, because Estella would be known to the baroness, so she has to begin creating Cruella.

How many wigs did you use for Cruella’s character and how did you keep them looking their best during filming?

Because the wig companies were so busy we only had about two black and white wigs and two red at first, and I just kept adding hair pieces to change the styles so it was pretty stressful and with quick turnarounds. They had so many processes on them, rollers, heat, backcombing, crimping and the white hair is so processed that I needed to look after it all the time. I gave it a lot of conditioning masks and treatments overnight whenever I could. I also used these on Emma under the wig to condition her hair while we filmed.

What was the most technically challenging part about working on Cruella’s hair when filming?

The styles are so wild that in action moments it’s all over the place, which it should be, but for continuity that’s hard and you don’t want it to be distracting.  Also, the two sides to the hair reacted so differently. The black side was much softer and took curl in a different way to the white side, so I would spend a lot of time staring at the wigs trying to balance the styles. The black side looked thicker and more dense, and on the white side you could see through it, so it just wouldn’t balance. It was tricky and I never expected that to be the challenge.

What is your favourite hair moment from the film, and how did you go about creating it?

I love the 18th century style garbage truck wig. I had this idea that when Estella is little she remembers all those incredible hairstyles from the ball at the Baroness’ house, and so when she dumps all the clothes on the Baroness’ doorstep years later she’s almost mimicking the style, but of course it needed to be in a Cruella way so it’s lopsided and messy. I loved playing with classic shapes and then making them punk.  It’s the same for the end look at Hell Hall she walks in with the front finger waved like a 1930s style but the back is a back-combed punk inspired style.

Want more wig insights? Why not check out our interview with a RuPaul’s Drag Race UK wig maker?

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