Save for a few early acting roles (most notably in The Godfather trilogy, directed by her father, Francis Ford Coppola), Sofia Coppola’s career as a filmmaker has been largely spent behind the camera. Still, the Oscar-winning director and writer showed an interest in the fashion world from an early age. At 15, Coppola held an internship with Chanel in Paris, where she spent her days in the design studio surrounded by couture sketches. Less than a decade later, the daughter of Hollywood royalty was walking the runway for Donna Karan and designing her own clothing line, Milk Fed. Those experiences, coupled with her time spent on her father’s film sets, undoubtedly shaped Coppola’s understanding of the importance that fashion can play in telling a story on screen.
And in the 20-plus years that Coppola has spent in the industry, the filmmaker has given audiences plenty of memorable visuals—from the lavish 18th-century gowns in 2006’s Marie Antoinette to the Juicy Couture tracksuits of the early aughts showcased in 2013’s The Bling Ring. But those types of louder looks are reserved for the characters Coppola creates, as the director’s personal style is typically more classic. Preferring a uniform of ballet flats and tailored black pants paired with neutral button-ups or striped sweaters (often with a fur coat thrown over top in the winter months), Coppola’s effortless approach to fashion helped to solidify her as an It girl early on. But she’s also a pro at walking the red carpet, often gravitating toward timeless black gowns elevated with embellished details or sheer paneling.
Red carpets aside, Coppola has also been a staple at fashion week shows around the globe since the ‘90s. Running errands for then-creative director Karl Lagerfeld as a teenager cemented a firm relationship between Coppola and Chanel; one that has seen the filmmaker attending fashion shows and directing short films and advertising campaign videos for the French fashion house over the years (she even turned to Chanel for a key costume in her upcoming film, Priscilla: a recreation of the wedding dress that Priscilla Presley donned to marry Elvis Presley).
But Chanel isn’t Coppola’s only famous fashion friendship. Perhaps most notably, she’s played both longtime muse to and collaborator with Marc Jacobs, whom she first met in 1992 when Jacobs was designing for Perry Ellis. Coppola has been a fixture at Jacobs’ shows ever since—both for his own brand and for Louis Vuitton, where Jacobs served as creative director from 1997 until 2014. Over the years, Coppola has gone from the face of Jacobs’ first-ever fragrance in 2001 to directing the commercial for a trio of the designer’s Daisy fragrances in 2014. Coppola, who was featured in more than one Louis Vuitton campaign during Jacobs’ tenure with the brand, even created her own handbag in 2009, aptly dubbed the SC bag.
Ahead, relive some of Coppola’s most defining fashion moments—from her early years accompanying her father to the Cannes Film Festival and sitting front row at fashion week to attending premieres for her own films in Cannes dressed in couture.
1979, Cannes Film Festival
Long before directing her own movies, Coppola’s trips to the Cannes Film Festival were always alongside her family: her father, legendary film director Francis Ford Coppola, her mother Eleanor (also a filmmaker) and her brothers.
1987, Chanel Show
Coppola has previously shared that one of the highlights of interning at Chanel in the ‘80s was having the opportunity to attend a couture show. Posing with then-creative director Karl Lagerfeld at the show for Chanel’s fall 1988 collection, Coppola’s black leather jacket and striped pants combo showed that stripes have been a staple in her wardrobe since she was just a teen.
1991, Academy Awards
Following her role as Mary Corleone in 1990’s The Godfather III, Coppola’s work as an actress was largely behind her. But before setting her sights on directing, she attended the Academy Awards with her family, dressed in a lace-trimmed black dress that would set the tone for many of Coppola’s future red carpet moments.
1994, Donna Karan
Though Coppola is a frequent front row guest at fashion shows like Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui and Chanel, she’s occasionally played model, too—as was the case in 1994, when she donned a black slip dress to walk the runway in Donna Karan’s New York Fashion Week show.
1995, MTV Video Music Awards
Coppola appeared in several music videos during the ‘90s, and she perfectly embodied the style of the time when she attended the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards in this sheer purple slip dress, worn over a fitted white tank top and black briefs.
2004, Academy Awards
Though she made her directorial breakthrough with 1999’s The Virgin Suicides, Coppola’s 2003 film, Lost in Translation, would prove to be a career-defining movie. To celebrate her three Oscar nominations (and her win for Best Screenplay), Coppola walked the red carpet in a black satin gown by her good friend, Marc Jacobs.
2004, Met Gala
A few months after her Oscar win, Coppola headed to New York City, where she attended the Met Gala with Jacobs. Opting for a monochromatic look that included a metallic gold dress, matching clutch and ankle strap heels, Coppola added just a hint of color with a red lip.
2006, Marc Jacobs Show
In a prime example of her effortless approach to fashion, Coppola paired tailored black trousers and a classic white button-up with a camel-colored, cropped fur coat to view Marc Jacobs’ fall 2006 collection.
2006, ‘Marie Antoinette’ Premiere
After attending a photocall in a more casual polka-dotted dress, Coppola walked the Cannes Film Festival red carpet for the premiere of her directorial work, Marie Antoinette, in Givenchy. The strapless silhouette featured pleated lace and a black band to define her waist, and Coppola added a touch of sparkle to the look with diamond drop earrings and a diamond bracelet. Making the evening all the more special, Coppola was joined by her parents and her partner, French musician Thomas Mars (plus the cast of Marie Antoinette, of course).
2007, Dior Show
Occasionally, Coppola opts for a bolder look, as evidenced by the pink and red number that she wore to attend the Christian Dior couture show in Paris.
2010, ‘Somewhere’ Premiere
Another LBD moment from Coppola; this time, the director chose a design from Louis Vuitton (at the time, Marc Jacobs served as creative director) while attending the Venice Film Festival premiere of her movie, Somewhere. The sleeveless dress included a Peter Pan collar with sheer paneling and a leather bow belt, which Coppola paired with a simple black clutch bag and ankle strap, peep-toe wedges that she wore throughout the week.
2010, ‘Elle’ Women In Hollywood Event
Coppola, who was one of the evening’s honorees at Elle’s 2010 Women in Hollywood event, kept things simple with a black skirt and sleeveless white top. Accessorizing with black ankle strap sandals and a matching clutch, Coppola skipped the jewelry and instead chose an embellished belt.
Stripes are typically reserved for more casual looks in Coppola’s wardrobe (and in neutral colors). But at an amfAR event in Paris, she dressed the pattern up with a yellow sweater and skirt set from the Marc Jacobs 2013 resort collection, which featured icy sequin stripes from top to bottom.
2013, Louis Vuitton Show
Jacobs’ parting season with Louis Vuitton was full of celebrations—including one final campaign and collaboration with Coppola. After launching new design iterations of her 2009 SC bag in Paris, Coppola attended the show for Jacobs’ final collection with the French fashion house, with her original SC bag in hand.
2014, Cannes Film Festival
Coppola served as a jury member during the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, helping to select the competition’s winners. Before the red carpets started, the director was spotted in a look that would have any French It girl jealous: ankle strap ballet flats, fitted black pants, an oversized blue button-up shirt, sunglasses and a tousled bob.
2014, ‘Grace Of Monaco’ Premiere
Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of red carpet moments from Coppola in Cannes (she had plenty of film premieres to attend as a juror, after all). One standout look came during the Grace of Monaco premiere, where Coppola wore a customized take on a look from the Valentino 2014 pre-fall collection. The all-black shorts and tunic set featured sequin and lace detailing and was paired with a Louis Vuitton clutch, Chopard jewelry and Celine wedges.
2014, ‘Foxcatcher’ Premiere
A few days later, Coppola stepped away from her usual black gowns on the red carpet, and turned to the Michael Kors 2014 spring collection for this belted blue dress with flowy sleeves and silver embellishment.
2014, Sonia Rykiel Show
Though fashion week tends to bring over-the-top looks from the front row guests, Coppola proved that sometimes, less really is more. To attend the Sonia Rykiel spring 2015 show in Paris, the director chose a classic striped knit sweater that she paired with faded jeans that featured a stripe down the side, plus a clutch bag and a simple white bangle bracelet.
2015, Fendi Event
Coppola has several longer coats among her fur collection, and she wore this white fur with her go-to black pants and wedge heels to celebrate the opening of Fendi’s New York City flagship store in 2015.
2016, ‘La Traviata’ Premiere
With multiple feature films on her resume, Coppola lent her directing talents to a production of the opera, La Traviata, for which she teamed up with fashion designer Valentino Garavani. For the production’s premiere in Rome, Coppola wore a dramatic gown from Valentino’s fall 2015 couture collection, which featured a full skirt of lace and embroidery and a sheer high-neck blouse with a polka dot print. In keeping with the look, she went for a bolder beauty look and accessories, too, pairing her dark eyeliner and smokey eye makeup with diamond drop earrings, a floral cuff bracelet and a matching floral brooch worn at her waist.
2017, Met Gala
Another Met Gala, another Marc Jacobs dress. Coppola stunned on the red carpet (which was actually cream and blue) in a floor-length, white glass bugle beaded gown and matching envelope clutch.
2017, ‘The Beguiled’ Premiere
Coppola made history at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where she became the second female filmmaker ever to win the festival’s best director prize. But first, she attended the screening for her award-winning film, The Beguiled, dressed in a classic black tweed suit from the Chanel 2017 Metiers d’Art collection.
2017, American Ballet Theatre Gala
For a night at the ballet, Coppola turned to designer (and her date for the evening) Marc Jacobs, for a custom version of a look from his spring 2018 collection.
2019, Valentino Show
Coppola was back to a classic all-black ensemble when she attended the show for Valentino’s spring 2019 collection in Paris, but it still included plenty of gorgeous detailing. The lace minidress featured three quarter length sleeves and a feather trimmed skirt, which Coppola paired with equally elegant accessories.
2019, Cartier Event
Coppola’s partnership with Cartier goes back to 2016, and includes a commercial that she directed for the luxury jewelry house’s Panthère watch. To celebrate Cartier’s latest launch, Coppola made a rare red carpet move with this tulle pastel gown, which featured sheer paneling and beaded embroidery.
2019, Prada Show
Making leopard print the new neutral, Coppola attended the Prada 2020 resort show in this sleeveless dress and black kitten heel mule combo.
2021, In New York City
When she isn’t on set or on the red carpet, Coppola’s casual style typically includes t-shirts, denim, sandals and gold accessories.
2022, ‘Vanity Fair’ Oscar Party
For the annual Vanity Fair Oscar party, Coppola turned to the Chanel archives, wearing a sheer black gown from the 2014 pre-fall collection that included a sheer tulle skirt, crystal embellishment along the waist and shimmering star embroidery throughout.
2022, Chanel Show
Coppola found a new way to wear stripes at the 2023 Chanel Cruise show with a striped maxi skirt, which she paired with a black sweater and denim bag—all by the French fashion house.
2023, ‘Priscilla’ Premiere
Chanel makes an appearance in Coppola’s 2023 film, Priscilla, so it’s no surprise that she turned to creative director Virginie Viard for its Venice Film Festival premiere. Opting for a gown from the fall 2023 couture collection, Coppola’s pick perfectly illustrated her timeless style with its sheer cape detailing and minimal accessories.