What does it take to be deigned a style icon? If anyone knows it’s Sofia Coppola, who through her decade-spanning career as a director, writer, and onetime fashion designer has sent a generation of women in search of the perfect shirt, trouser, ballet flat, and bob. For Coppola, ground zero of her fashion education was Chanel. “When I was a teenager my dad was friends with Carole Bouquet, who was the face of Chanel at that time in the ’80s. She was the one that introduced me to Chanel,” Coppola remembers. “I remember her dressing in Chanel and being really chic. That made a big impression on me … she was my main introduction to Chanel—and to my obsession.”
Coppola is celebrating that obsession, and all things Coco-esque, with a new short film that marks the opening of the brand’s Mademoiselle Privé exhibit in Tokyo. In the exhibit, guests will be able to walk through three distinct areas that show off the house’s history as a couturier, perfumer, and jewelry maker—all of which is represented in Coppola’s short through found footage from the brand archive. “I like to make collages and I like the editing process, so making the short was more like that, putting together a collage of images and finding music that had the right energy,” the director said of her 60-second movie.
In the film, footage of Catherine Deneuve, Romy Schneider, Lily-Rose Depp, and more are collaged together in contrast with Grimes’s “Oblivion,” the song acting as a nod to the kinetic energy of Tokyo. “It’s a montage to show the spirit of Chanel, which is a mix of high couture, playfulness, femininity, as well as Coco’s idea of the modern woman,” Coppola says. “I just love it,” she continues of Chanel’s vision of fashion. “She was making clothes for women to be able to work, travel, be comfortable in, and give them confidence—I think that’s just what you look for in fashion.” For some viewers of the short, Visconti’s vision of Romy Schneider, as dressed by Chanel in Il Lavoro, might be canon; for others, it might be the first time discovering Catherine Deneuve’s TV spots for Chanel’s fragrances. “It was really fun for me to discover that again,” Coppola says of Deneuve’s vintage ads. “She was so glamorous, but with a wink.”
In addition to relating to the brand’s own insouciant style, Coppola also has a long history with its former creative director Karl Lagerfeld, having been an intern for him at Chanel in her teens. “It definitely made a huge impression on me, seeing the way they put fashion together with a playfulness about it,” she says of her intern days at Chanel headquarters at 31 rue Cambon. “Karl was a also big influence on me because he was so creative and did so many different things, like photography and film. In my life, I have always loved doing different things that aren’t just part of one medium. He was so inspiring to me, showing that you can pursue different interests and that visual creativity is all linked.”
“It made an impression on me as a kid and still excites me now,” she continues, talking about the Chanel way of life. That lasting impression could be why the director admits that a Chanel jacket remains unbeaten in her wardrobe. “The classic Chanel jacket is one of my favorite things,” she says. “It embodies to me the idea of a Parisian woman who makes it look so easy, but is still chic. I think that’s what we all love about Chanel.” Is it a coincidence that the whole easy-chic idea is what so many of us admire about Coppola’s own taste?