IN ‘CRUELLA,’ FASHION IS TOXIC

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There is a scene, about halfway through “Cruella,” the new Disney origin story for the “101 Dalmatians” baddie, in which the Baroness, a fashion designer diva played by Emma Thompson, is sipping Champagne with her new employee — a would-be designer named Estella and played by Emma Stone — and lecturing her on what it takes to succeed in the business.

“You can’t care about anyone else,” the Baroness says, pursing her perfect blood-red lips and baring her perfect white teeth. “Everyone else is an obstacle. You care what an obstacle wants or feels, you’re dead. If I cared about anyone or thing, I might have died like so many brilliant women with a drawer full of unseen genius and a heart full of sad bitterness. You have the talent for your own label. Whether you have the killer instinct is the big question.”

As it turns out, she means “killer” literally — as does Estella (alter ego: Cruella), who in return narrows her eyes and replies “I hope I do,” setting up an epic-to-the-last-ruffle battle waged in dramatic sheaths, punk leather jackets, fire and straight pins.

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