Life is Cruella: The Dalmation thief is a perfect fit for the world of high fashion

 

Most people's perception is that fashion is peopled by archetypal female Disney villains - think of Queen Grimhilde, who banished Snow White for outdoing her in the youth and beauty stakes. Not too different to many a fashion editor, you could assume.

However, if we're thinking fashion and Disney the only anti-heroine who really chimes true is Cruella De Vil. Eternally slender and ferociously stylish at the expense of everyone (including any number of animals), Cruella's entire focus is fashion – fur, yes, but contrary to popular belief, not exclusively. In Dodie Smith's 1956 novel, De Vil was a jewelled and satin-trussedsocialite married to a furrier to sate a burning passion for pelts – the pivot of her wardrobe, but certainly not its extent. It was also the mood of the time, when a mink coat was the coveted status symbol of everyone from suburban housewife to Hollywood starlet.

Fast-forward through Cruella's 1961 cartoon incarnation, and by the live-action film of 1996 – the height of PETA power, shortly after supermodels declared they'd rather go naked than wear fur, and when every fashion fur was actually a fake – Cruella had been reinvented. She was no longer merely a consumer of clothing, but a creator, a glamourpuss fashion magnate at the helm of the "House of DeVil".

Anita, the dithering, dowdy dalmation-owner, proposed faux-furs splattered with dalmation dots. Cruella demanded the real thing. Oddly, that chimed with fashion's real-life reclamation of real-life fur, designers like Alexander McQueen and John Galliano suddenly deciding fur was fine and smothering models in every shade of skin. Think pink? Think pink mink, more like.

With a few notable exceptions – Stella McCartney the highest-profile – ever since then, real fur has never really left high fashion. This season, especially, fur is everywhere, running the gambit from prawn-pink astrakhan and pastel Persian lamb trims at Miu Miu, through fluoro pink and electric blue at Fendi, to natural brown mink at Prada in the kind of unapologetic, ostentatiously full-length number we haven't seen since, well, about 1956 when The Hundred and One Dalmatians was first published. Cruella would approve.

But that also highlights the issues many have with fur – too closely aligning it with cute little puppies and rich bitches with the stench of blood hot in their nostrils. Rich is the word too – that Prada full-length fur rings in at a cool £83,000.

Cruella, of course, is supposed to be a hate figure: her surname is "de Vil," so obvious an allusion it barely qualifies as a pun.There's only one problem: they made her so inferably chic, even when on a murderous rampage, that you simply can't hate her. And god knows, today fashion loves fur almost as much as she did. Can a Cruella American Vogue cover be that far away?

Alexander Fury is Fashion Editor of 'The Independent'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Content Manager

    £26000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Content Manager is re...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Application Developer

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

    £14000 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will b...

    Recruitment Genius: Continuous Improvement Manager

    £41500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee