‘Cruella’: The Villain’s Black and White Hair Is an Actual Hereditary Condition

Creating a unique villain for Disney’s animated 101 Dalmatians required looking into a person who had a split personality. What better way to demonstrate the duality than having two different hair colors? While Cruella‘s hair split was meant to be fictional, it has a basis in a naturally occurring phenomenon.


Emma Stone smiling at the 'Cruella' premiere
Emma Stone | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

The movie Cruella takes us back before the time of 101 Dalmatians and shows us exactly how Cruella De Vil was created. Emma Stone stars as Cruella as we get a glance into the character’s childhood and dreams. The birth of Estella was a shock to her mother. She was an outcast and because of her hair was never accepted socially.

School discipline was a major problem. After several marks against her, Cruella’s mother attempted to take her somewhere they could start a new life. However, her mother dies at a gala where she stopped to speak with Baroness Von Hellman. Alone in the world, Estella embraces her more wild side her mother had dubbed Cruella.

Poliosis is a real condition

While the dramatic two-toned hair color certainly helps create a visual duality effect, the actual condition is not usually quite so dramatic. Poliosis has made its way into other films such as Sweeney Todd. Singer Bonnie Raitt has it naturally, according to Healthline.

The condition of poliosis is usually found in those who carry the Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada disease, Allezandrini syndrome, and Waardenburg syndrome. These rare diseases cause pigment changes in the hair and skin. Usually, there are other symptoms that accompany the visual changes.

Shock or fright is sometimes said to cause melanin disruption. Sometimes even overnight. A great example is the X-Men (2000) use of Rogue and her hair color change after the trauma of being used to power the device made by Magneto.

While the hair can be dyed or covered to disguise the stark contrast, there is no way to reinfuse the follicles with melanin. This leaves those who suffer from the condition no choice but to accept or change the color. One family has accepted the change for four generations.

Real-life cases

There is a four-generation family of women who can attest to the condition as being hereditary. They traced their condition as far back as the great-grandmother who was adopted at birth. Parent Herald reports that the 18-month-old great-granddaughter has a small blast of white on her forehead like her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother do.

While it’s not the whole side of the head, the contrast between the black hair and the white is breathtaking. The mother’s sister does not have the white streak, however, and it was thought the baby would not have it either.

However, she is the fourth in the line of women in North Carolina to be blessed with a beautiful accent. It is not stated whether any of the women suffer from a disease that causes the feature and has been passed down.

Specialty wigs were made for Cruella

Emma Stone personally asked designer Nadia Stacey to work the hair and makeup of Cruella. Her decision was based on their time together on the set of The Favorite. The period wigs of the gala were colored and decorated with the expert hands of Stacey because of her work on other period pieces.

Stacey told Vanity Fair that creating the unique wigs and makeup combinations was fun to apply. The red rhinestone lipstick and future makeup were one of her favorites.

The designer had only two wigs made for the film due to Stone not being available for fitting before shooting. Each one took its own turn being fixed and decorated through the iconic Cruella film.

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