Cover Photo: Fikri Afif

Disney+ Hotstar teams up with Malaysian fashion illustrator Fikri Afif to reimagine characters from Cruella with a Malaysian-inspired sartorial twist

This month, Disney+ Hotstar has gone all out to take Cruella's lead characters from the screen to real life. From edgy reimaginations of the iconic villain's style to stellar Cruella-inspired wardrobe transformations by Malaysian influencers like Amelia Henderson, Malaysian fans of the live action film will doubtless be excited with this collaboration with Disney+ Hotstar on their home turf.

Can you picture Cruella de Vil in a cheongsam? Malaysian fashion illustrator Fikri Afif was the perfect candidate to create three gorgeous looks for the film's diabolical leading lady as well as for her oh-so-fashionable nemesis, Baroness von Hellman. Afif, who has worked with brands like Fashion Valet, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Gucci, posted the looks on Instagram on September 1, 2021.

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"When I received the offer to collaborate with Disney+ Hotstar for its long-awaited live action feature film about one of cinema's most notorious—and notoriously fashionable—villains, Cruella, it was a quick YES from me," he wrote in the post, citing admiration for the film's two-time Academy Award–winning costume designer, Jenny Beavan.

"Inspired by Cruella’s iconic looks, these numbers were given a Malaysian twist, with new takes on the traditional cheongsam, Sarawakian Orang Ulu cultural costume’s prints and a Muslim-friendly look while still capturing her persona: fierce, bold and a little bit mad!"

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Afif's first look for Cruella has given the signature Dalmatian print a Muslim-friendly update, with a design inspired by Cruella's fashion show debut in the film. The second look gives the villain a sexy cheongsam-inspired dress, complete with a high neckline and a sculpted corsette. 

We couldn't have guessed that the Sarawakian Orang Ulu cultural costume was the inspiration behind Cruella's third look, in which a traditional pattern features prominently on the outfit's oversized bow and headpiece.   

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Meanwhile, the Baroness' own Malaysian-inspired wardrobe upgrade invokes the familiar textures, patterns and silhouettes of songket and Tenun—perhaps it's about time we saw these traditional Southeast Asian woven fabrics reworked into red-carpet outfits. 

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Referencing Baroness von Hellman's architecture-inspired style in the film, Afif's reimagining of her character sees a tunic-like black and white ballgown for the first look, featuring a long chiffon drape. The second look is bold and fierce, paying ode to the texture of luxurious fabrics like Tenun Pahang Diraja and Songket Bunga Tabur of Terengganu.

The final look, of course, lends itself to the graceful lines and drapes of the traditional Indian costume, the saree, with gold details and a dramatic, almost Elizabethan-like collar. 

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To add to the fun, Disney+ Hotstar has also thrown a fashion challenge to Malaysian influencers Charis Ow, Amelia Henderson, Shalma Ainaa and Malaysia's own K-pop-inspired girl group Dolla to don their best Cruella looks in front of the camera. After seeing the results, we kind of wish that each of these talented ladies had her own Disney movie. A girl can dream, right?  

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