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Sofia Coppola: Fashion Adjacent

The name Sofia Coppola conjures up muted colors and soft, dreamlike visuals that ebb and flow between minimalist and maximalist style. While it seems as though the stylings of Marie Antoinette and The Bling Ring were a stroke of luck, it was all Coppola. Her initial relationship to fashion served as the primary inspiration for her subsequent career in filmmaking. Behind the director of our favorite cult-classics is an individual privy to acting, modeling, and design all before the release of her first film.

With fashion as her first love it's no surprise that she reigned as an It girl for a majority of the 90s. Between her street style and household name Coppola was granted her very own clothing line, connections to Anna Wintour and Anna Sui, and modeling careers with the must have magazines of the decade. As an ode to the filmmaker I aim to take a look back at her budding career in fashion and ask myself: What can't Sofia Coppola do?

Hi Octane

How many people can say they had their very own television show at only twenty three? Of course Coppola acquired the show through her wealth of connections, but it doesn't detract from its legacy. Consisting of only four episodes and premiering on Comedy Central, Hi Octane was two things: fast cars and fashion. Alongside Coppola was Zoe Cassavetes, a longtime friend and artistic director that has most recently been a part of Emily in Paris and The Sex Lives of College Girls. Although each episode only consisted of twenty-two minutes, it was a jam packed fever dream. It's evident the two girls were given complete freedom and self expression. Full of jump cuts, skits, interviews, and on location moments every episode set out to be a whirlwind adventure. Right after receiving a lesson in monster trucks with the girls we're brought to a Paris fashion show and speak with Karl Lagerfeld himself.

My favorite moment in the series comes in episode two where Coppola and former husband Spike Jonze put on an impromptu fashion show for Kim Gordon and Daisy von Furth's fashion line X-Girl. On the streets of New York everyone is in attendance including Anna Sui, Linda Evangelista, Kyle Maclachlan and more. The show can be described as controlled chaos. Amongst a slew of models, photographers, and onlookers Coppola can be found in a hot pink mini skirt, graphic tee and navy hoodie directing the masses. At the height of it all it cuts to Gordon and Furth and we're given an inside look into the amalgamation of the brand which is described as: rockstar, rebel, raver, glamour, skater, and indie. Dispersed throughout this description we see models wearing the X-Girl streetwear full of 90s classics such as baby tees, tee shirt dresses, stripes, and bucket hats over bleached hair.

The 1994 show was ahead of its time in so many ways. It's my guess that cool girls Coppola and Cassavetes were too much for Comedy Central's male dominated audience. Even moments of speeding cars and interviews with stunt men couldn't detract from a spontaneous interview with the late, great André Leon Talley or the array of models decked head to toe in black Chanel sequins. If you're so inclined to watch head over to Youtube, and become acquainted with Jenny Shimitzu, Debby Harry, Keanu Reeves, Naomi Campbell and Martin Scorsece.

Milk Fed

For Coppola, a girl with little to no experience in the industry, creating her own fashion line was simply a fun, side project to entertain herself. Working alongside creative Linda Meltzer allowed her brand Milk Fed to blossom into the cool girl label it was made to be. Acknowledging her naivety in a 1994 interview with W Magazine Coppola describes herself as the official designer while Meltzer acted as the "grown up' that truly brought the dream into a reality.

The line is complete with nylon t-dresses, hip hugging pants, silk skirts, and graphic baby tees full of stenciled imagery and phrases like 'wasted', 'I love booze', and 'milk'. As a first project, it's exactly what one would expect from the young artist. With its simple closet staples and minimal color palette, the line emits an off duty model look that only few can truly attain. Despite Coppola's petite models and friends adorning the line she assured each item was made with every body and every budget in mind. While the line was short lived, it still continues on in the hearts of many.

Marc Jacobs/Heaven

In her more recent endeavors with fashion, you may be familiar with the Lux skirt that sold out as fast as one can image. As a collaborative effort with friend and fashion designer Marc Jacobs Coppola utilized her 1999 film The Virgin Suicides capturing teen angst and suburban girlhood as the central focus for the Heaven line.

When the collection released in Fall/Winter 2021, its impact was couldn't be ignored. Rebellious and promiscuous sister Lux Lisbon (played by Kirsten Dunst) takes center stage for the line and grace almost every piece, allowing for femininity and fun. On tees, button down shirts, and maxi skirts Coppola's romantic visuals of Dunst’s flowing blonde locks, rosy smirk, and curious eyes mark various garments and stand out as the most enticing points of the collection.

The project served as such a big moment for Coppola as it demonstrated her knowledge and know how of fashion on top of her incredible costume design and visions for film. At the drop of the collection we're reminded of the film makers expertise. Combining the 70s school girl aesthetic and 90s grunge influence brought us a unique project with statement pieces and playful accessories on top of printed hoodies, chunky platform boots, and eye catching knit sweaters that could only come from a Coppola/Jacobs pairing. It's a surprise that the collection hadn't come earlier with the pair so intrinsically connected. Upon meeting Coppola in 1992 after releasing his grunge collection for Perry Ellis, the duo became linked forever. Jacobs recounts, "She represented everything I am drawn to – talent, style, creativity, a unique ‘vision and voice’. She had then and has now an interest in fashion not as an art but rather part of the ‘art of living."

Containing Multitudes

Throughout her career in fashion Coppola experimented, collaborated, failed, succeeded and is still moving forward. Through her latest films and public appearances we've seen how she's grown and evolved but we're still offered a glimpse into the 90s lifestyle she onced lived, full of exciting and fun projects. As of late we've seen her daughter Romy Croquet take the stage and follow in her mother's footsteps by wearing the latest from the Heaven line. No matter what Coppola's next endeavor may be we can definitely expect the incredible style and crafted aesthetics we've come to know and love.

Illustration by Inci Sahin


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