It’s almost Halloween and I decided to prepare a little costume-tutorial. I don’t know if you’ve seen the 1996 live-action movie version of the 101 Dalmatians, but you should definitely check out the costumes worn by Cruella de Vil! I think Glenn Close was an excellent choice for the role and the costumes look fabulous and very extravagant. The costume-designer Anthony Powell was even nominated for an Oscar for this job.
So in case somebody would be interested in re-creating the Cruella de Vil -look, I chose this costume. It’s quite easy to make and it’s a recognizable costume if you’ve seen the film. It has the pointy shoulders, which might be useful knowledge for other costumes as well.
Observing the costume
Unfortunately I couldn’t find any video-material to study the costume better, so we’ll have to go by this picture and imagine the backside. The picture is from Vanity Fair’s website. I’ll put a link at the end so you can read their article, too.
I see a fitted long dress. The skirt seems to have an overlapped front and some draping. The sleeves have a very slim fit and two layers of ”fringe” around the wrist-line. There are pointy shoulders and a second layer covers the right side of the bodice.
When it comes to materials, the original is made in silk crepe, but the easiest way to go would be a stretch velvet. The only thing is that then you’ll have to interface the shoulder-areas, or they will collapse. Other choice is to choose something stiffer, non-stretch, and make the sleeves a bit larger (I think the only problem are the sleeves). In fact, the version presented here is a toile made in cotton and the pattern has not been drafted for stretch-materials.
If you prefer to have stretch, just start from a basic pattern block for knits, or eliminate the darts and take off the extra-volume from the side-seams.
Drafting the pattern
Depending on the materials, the starting point will be a basic dress block with darts or a basic dress block for stretch materials without darts. Complete with sleeves.
Let’s draft the skirt first. I did a simplified version, without the draping, so that it would be easier to do with a flat pattern. It’s asymmetrical in the front so you’ll need both sides to draft the pattern.
It’s a full length skirt. Use measuring tape to see how narrow you can go with the hem: put it around your ankles and see how much space you need to be comfortable. Remember that it’s open in the front, so probably you’ll be able to walk anyways. The back-side is more simple, make the side-seam same as in the front. I’d make it something like this:
Starting with the white overlapped area, look at the original costume and draw a similar line over the right side. It’ll be like layering, so there’s also a facing underneath. Separate the facing with a straight line.
Now you must decide what to do with the backside. There has to be a zipper in the centre back, so if you want to make the backside similar to the frontside, you must break the white motif with the zipper. In my version the backside is plain and instead I just made the right side black and the left side white. More simple!
How about the shoulders? Well, it’s probably more simple than you think! Starting from the front, just draw the profile you want your shoulders to have. Copy the same line on the back-shoulder. There’s a facing underneath, so decide the size of that. Match the front- and back-pieces and draw a smooth line at the edge.
Now you have the shoulders done, but you can’t attach the sleeves anywhere unless you copy the little missing piece, marked with X between the base of the shoulder-facing and the original shoulder-line. To have less seams, you can just make one piece uniting the front and back. Just remember to mark where the shoulder-line is.
To keep everything in place, I’d also add a lining to the bodice.
The sleeves are pretty basic. Make them as fitted as you can, depending on your fabric. Draw the two layers of ”fringes” (I don’t know what to call them!) and separate them from the sleeve with this triangular cut. I think they’ll look nice with a raw edge, but you can also cut the pieces twice to get a finished edge.
And this is how my Cruella de Vil -costume toile looks like! It’s not 100% identical, but close enough, so I’m happy.
I’m sure there are other ways to create this costume, this is just my version. Like I said, a more simple way of drafting it. I recommend you check out the rest of Cruella de Vil’s amazing wardrobe! You can find lots of pictures from Google.