The iconically villainous fashion designer with a hankering for Dalmatian fur walks into a ballroom in a white hooded coat, which suddenly erupts into flames, revealing a sinister red gown underneath it. Talk about an entrance! With costumes designed by the Oscar-winning Jenny Beavan, the film is guaranteed to be a maniacally stylish flick, with Cruella getting an edgy, punky makeover. (It will be hard to top Glenn Close’s portrayal in 1996’s 101 Dalmatians, of course, but it already looks very promising.) Few antagonists are as overtly glamorous as De Vil, but Hollywood has a history of making antagonists impeccably dressed-both in cartoon and live-action form. And there’s something about bad girl style that’s indeed just so good.
When looking at the scope of villainous fashion plates, two categories emerge: There’s the faux innocent, à la Regina George, and the slick, edgy sexpots. For the former, look to the Fembots in Austin Powers and their marabou feathers, or Villanelle’s frilly Molly Goddard tutu gowns in Killing Eve. These evil chicks enjoy dressing sweetly to take their prey by complete surprise. It was Shakespeare, after all, who wrote, “Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t.”
Then there’s the predator who barely masks her malice. When Halle Berry portrayed Catwoman in 2004, her menacing outfit totally made the otherwise-panned movie. Her reimagined black leather catsuit by Angus Strathie was strappy and sexier than the one famously worn by Michelle Pfeiffer-and totally more badass too. Grace Jones’s hooded Azzedine Alaïa getups in A View to a Kill would make anyone want to join the dark side. Simply put, bad girls just do it better-and below, more of the most stylish villains of all time prove it.
Miranda Priestley in The Devil Wears Prada
May Day in A View to a Kill
Regina George in Mean Girls
Yzma in The Emperor's New Groove
O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill
Patience Phillips/Catwoman in Catwoman
Villanelle in Killing Eve
Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty
Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct
Kathryn Merteuil in Cruel Intentions
Courtney Shayne in Jawbreaker
Queen Akasha in Queen of the Damned
Ursula in The Little Mermaid
Meredith Blake in The Parent Trap
Vanessa in Taxi
Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad
Madison Lee in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle
Fembots in Austin Powers
Queen Ravenna in Snow White and the Huntsman
The secret of success is to do the common thing uncommonly well.