“Croala’s Revenge Tool is Fashion”: The Protagonists of the New Film are the Clothes
With lots of style and without killing dogs, the fashion designer played by Emma Stone uses one of the evil characters of Disney to address the power struggles in the fashion world.
On and off the screen – the fashion world occasionally needs a vicious turn, one that with a stiletto heel or roll of the eye can freeze a fleet of assistants. In other words: a woman with traits that are considered “masculine” like assertiveness and self-confidence, wrapped in a striking style and beautiful clothes. In merging eyes, it seems, the combination of being smart and strong and dressing in a designer dress is impossible.
Vogue America America editor Anna Wintour, who has often been portrayed as a demonic character inspired by Miranda Priestley in “The Devil Wears Prada,” is just one example of watching Disney’s new movie “Crowella,” which hits theaters today (Thursday). Or as actress Emma Stone, who plays Crowella, puts it: “Crowella’s revenge tool is fashion.”
The plot in a nutshell: Crowella is Estella, a young girl who is orphaned from her mother and becomes a rebellious girl and woman, shaping her character as the infamous fashion icon Crowella de Ville, who until recently gracefully played Glenn Close by Dudi Smith’s book “101 Dalmatians”. Throughout the film we watch Estella and her new alter ego, Crowella de Ville – a pun on cruel and devil. A devil woman, if you will, from the great cliches of Hollywood cinema.
Crowella later meets baronial elite designer von Hellman (Emma Thompson) and begins working for her as a designer, paving the way for a personal voice in 1970s London, a home for glam-rock and punk style that is reflected in almost every artistic aspect of the film’s plot and design: from the department store Liberty London, where Estella works as a toilet cleaner, to an “Artie” designer who looks like the lost child of David Bowie and Marian Faithpool with an androgynous look and a nasal voice.
From the movie “Crowella”
Crowella 2021 is adapted to the contemporary discourse in dress. If the original Crowella designed her clothes from furs – then the new Crowella spared the dogs in the movie (two of them are her best friends) and the Dalmatian coat, the one that the Baroness believes is made of her three dogs, she creates from printed fabric. In the days when fur is considered allotted to many circles around the world, Disney studios prefer not to dive into controversial discourse, and flow with fashion houses like Versace, Gucci, Prada and others who have decided to stop using fur in their products.
More than it’s a movie laden with grandiose costumes – “Crowella” is a movie about the fashion industry, which places its plot in a design studio. “Fashion is present everywhere in the film,” director Craig Gillespie explains in a behind-the-scenes video. From the very first scenes, Estella can be seen putting on a personal style, turning the jacket of the uniform at the conservative school she attended, revealing a colorful hand-painted lining. In another scene at the beginning of the film, when she leaves with her mother for the big city of London, the mother tells her: “It is impossible to be a fashion designer in a small town.”
The fashion world has already starred in quite a few on-screen plots. Partial list: The TV series “Emily in Paris”, the films “Something to Wear” by Robert Altman (1994), “The Devil Wears Prada” (2016), “Hidden Threads” (2017) and even the new series “Comprehensive Milan” which aired this year here 11 – Everyone uses fashion, often in a stereotypical and exaggerated way, to engage in power relations between human beings.
In the film “Crowella”, for example, fashion serves as a frame story to discuss issues of motherhood, love, creativity, heritage and the tension between an older woman and a young woman – between the baroness and the young woman, between artistic blasting and creative burst, between the veteran designer whose designs are deeply inspired by the 50s Movie stars like Joan Crawford and Elizabeth Taylor, and the young punk spirit of the ’70s.
In a series of scenes featuring a fashionable duel between the two, costume designer Jenny Bowen manages to visually and stylistically articulate the differences between them. In the scene that takes place on the eve of the gala in the film, Crowella arrives wearing gold sequin pants and a leather jacket, with makeup of the word The Future on her face. If anyone had a doubt, Crowella is the future. In another scene, Crowella climbs into a vehicle in which the baroness is locked, wearing an extravagant punk-couture ensemble that features a military-style jacket adorned with gold chains and a red pleated skirt that covers the entire vehicle.
The cry for victory over the Baroness is made by Crowella as she is carried on the step of a large garbage truck, wearing a top in the pattern of a newspaper print and a skirt with a long trail – a sort of quote for two famous collections by John Galliano for the 2000 Dior fashion house: the “newspapers” collection -Winter 2000-21; And the designer’s controversial “Homeless” collection, perhaps one of the most iconic he has created for the fashion house’s haute couture line.
From the movie “Crowella”
The correspondence with Galliano’s housing is probably not accidental, but refers to a period of burst of creativity that took place in the fashion world at the beginning of the millennium with designers with a dominant persona. In one word: divas. Like the Baroness – whose designs are no longer relevant, but she also clings to fame at the cost of abusing her employees, including gestures that seem to have been taken from “the devil wears Prada.” Between the lines the film seeks to tell us: Being a fashion man with evil diva manners is so outdated.
However, not everything is that simple. Crowella adopts exactly the same codes of conduct to screw around in the fashion industry as it presents the best and most innovative ideas in terms of design. Here a question arises that constantly preoccupies the fashion world: does an idea brought by a junior designer like Estella LeBronite entitle her to credit, or is working for the Baroness herself a sort of lottery win?
From the movie “Crowella”
After the baroness loses her inspiration and finds her using Estella, she chooses to lock the new dresses in a safe for fear of being copied. But in an age where fashion is a collection of quotes from designers on designers, a confectionery of commercial chains focusing on cheap replicas of clothes viewed on the runways – will locking clothes in a safe keep them from copyists? This is a question that has no unequivocal answer. One can only recall the words often said by the late fashion designer Albert Elbaz: “You can copy the latest collection you designed. You can not copy your ideas.