Estella Miller is a creative child with a talent for fashion but has a cruel streak, leading her mother Catherine to nickname her “Cruella”. Additionally, she grows up alienated from her peers due to her poliosis and bold statements. Due to Estella’s rebellious nature almost causing her expulsion from her school, Catherine pulls her daughter from school to keep her record clean and plans to move to London. On the way there, she stops at a party hosted by a wealthy woman to ask for financial assistance. Despite being told to stay in the car, Estella sneaks into the party with her dog Buddy and witnesses a fashion show for the first time, but unintentionally attracts the attention of the host’s ferocious Dalmatians. They chase her outside, and Estella witnesses Catherine being pushed to her death off the cliff by the Dalmatians. Orphaned with Buddy and blaming herself for Catherine’s death, Estella makes her way to London and befriends two street urchins named Jasper and Horace, and their Chihuahua Wink. To go unnoticed, she dyes her hair red.
Ten years later, Estella is making ends meet alongside Jasper and Horace as thieves, while honing her fashion skills by designing their disguises. For her birthday, Jasper and Horace get her a job at the Liberty department store, but only as a janitor and Estella is denied access to use her skills. A drunken Estella remakes one of the window displays and lands a coveted job with the Baroness, who is a renowned but authoritarian haute couture designer. Estella gains the Baroness’ confidence but eventually notices her boss wearing a necklace that once belonged to Catherine. After the Baroness claims an employee had previously stolen it, Estella asks Jasper and Horace to retrieve the necklace.