Set in London’s iconic 1970s punk era, Disney’s latest live-action film Cruella tells the origin of 101 Dalmatians’ style-hungry villain Cruella de Vil. The star-studded cast includes Emma Stone as a talented young Cruella – known then as Estella – and British actress Emma Thompson, as fashion royalty Baroness von Hellman. Paying tribute to punk’s ground-breaking fashion and music through Estella’s anarchic attitude, the film tips its hat to British fashion icons Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen.
From London’s best vintage shopping haunts to grand estates in Berkshire, locations across southern England provided the backdrop for director Craig Gillespie, who reveals an evocative glimpse into a definitive era of British style via the magic of Cruella.
First stop on our Cruella–inspired itinerary is Soho’s famous department store, Liberty – a shop so integral to the story that it was 3D scanned and filmed in an exact replica! It’s here that Estella is first immersed in the world of high fashion and introduced to the influence of style guru, Baroness von Hellman.
Originally founded in 1875, the modern-day Soho’s Liberty opened in 1924. Built using timbers from two 19th century battle ships, it features a striking Tudor-style exterior and has a reputation for offering shoppers luxury designs across six floors. Here, fashionistas can climb the winding staircases to find everything from jewellery and trendy labels to decadent homeware, as well as a range of hand-picked vintage designs for eco-conscious style icons.
If you’re wanting to add further design inspiration to a London trip, plan to visit South Kensington’s V&A, the world’s leading art and design museum. Dream of taking in the world’s largest dress collection, which spans five centuries, and of spying the statement Dale Chihuly Rotunda Chandelier, part of a collection featuring more than 2.3 million objects.
Next, plan to follow in Estella’s footsteps with a shopping trip to Notting Hill’s Portobello Road – home to one of the world’s biggest antiques markets. Stretching for half a mile, it is known for its rows of statement vintage fashion and second-hand jewellery, ideal for creating a head-turning look!
If you’re wanting to step back into the heyday of London’s punk movement, plan to visit 430 Kings Road. Back in the 1970s, Vivienne Westwood – a source of inspiration for Estella’s character – opened a shop here that defined the scene’s aesthetic. Now named Vivienne Westwood World’s End, the boutique is adorned with a giant 13-hour backwards-ticking clock and is stocked with Westwood’s coveted designs. The style obsessed can also take note of the numerous dream-worthy fashion exhibitions coming to Britain, including The Boutique in 1960s Counterculture at Southwark’s Fashion and Textile Museum, showing from October 2021 until February 2022.
Want to see where Cruella’s show-stopping red carpet scene was filmed? Plan to explore the Old Royal Naval College. Nestled beside the River Thames at the heart of the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site, the building’s Baroque pillars and towers provide a taste of London’s grand history. The rich architecture is mirrored by equally dazzling interiors, such as the Painted Hall and historic chapel. Film buffs might also recognise the site from other big name productions, including Sherlock Holmes, Skyfall, The Crown and many more!
You can also sample the royal world of Baroness von Hellman in Westminster, as the exterior of The House of Baroness was shot close to The Mall in London. This royal ceremonial route, connecting Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square, is bursting with extravagant buildings to admire.
Crossing through the St James’s park, look forward to strolling along the tree-lined Birdcage Walk, a great spot for spying some of London’s grand townhouses. This area is replete with royal residences too, from the London home of The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, Clarence House, to St James’s Palace and Marlborough House.
The magic of Cruella was also captured in the county of Berkshire, home to the royal residence of Windsor Castle – and if it’s good enough for the Queen, it’s good enough for Baroness von Hellman! The stunning Elizabethan mansion of Englefield House was used as the exterior of the Baroness’ country home, Hellman Hall. Although the mansion itself is private, you can still wander through the immaculate Englefield Gardens, which date back more than four hundred years. Open every Monday, you can look forward to the terraces, vibrant blooms and ancient forests nestled behind the Baroness’ grand home.