Planning the Directors Issue, which is now in its fourth iteration, is one of my favorite moments of the year. Collaborating with phenomenal filmmakers at pivotal moments in their career is an honor, and this time around, when so many brilliant women were putting out incredible movies, that was even more true. We were thrilled to work with Regina King, Sofia Coppola, and Emerald Fennell, who were given free rein to conceive and execute their stories as they saw fit. It was fascinating to witness how they approached the process in completely different ways, but with the same degree of dedication.
King was first up. I met King a couple of years ago, when we photographed her for our 2019 Best Performances portfolio, and it was clear that she was a force. Unsurprisingly, she went on to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, for If Beale Street Could Talk. Her recent directorial debut, One Night in Miami..., leaves no doubt that she is as talented behind the camera as she is in front of it. For this project, King knew immediately that she wanted her cover subject to be Viola Davis, and assembled a star team that included the photographer Andre D. Wagner and the award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who had just received her much-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. King also asked Davis to include her husband, Julius Tennon, and their preteen daughter, Genesis, in the shoot. The outcome, “Black Americana,” is a breathtaking visual essay.
Next was Sofia Coppola, whose work has long been a source of inspiration—I’ve never forgotten the white dresses that Lux Lisbon wore in The Virgin Suicides, Coppola’s own photographs from the set of Lost in Translation, or the soundtrack from Marie Antoinette. Coppola wanted to celebrate three inspirational friends for her cover: Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning. The logistics weren’t easy—Coppola was in Belize; Fanning was filming The Great in London; and Jones, Dunst, and photographer Zoë Ghertner were in Los Angeles. Still, thanks to a lot of technological ingenuity and many Zoom calls, we were able to create the dreamy images in “All Dressed Up With Nowhere to Go.” During the shoot, Coppola and I discussed couture and ballskirts and makeup as we reminisced about parties and getting dressed up—all the things we have been missing this year. Her choices of locations, jewelry, even poses and mannerisms were so precise that it felt like we were witnessing the making of another great Coppola film.
After seeing Promising Young Woman, the directorial debut of Emerald Fennell, the W team unanimously felt we had to include her, too. Within 24 hours of our first conversation, Fennell had prepared an incredible mood board with hair, makeup, clothing, and props (down to a bejeweled custom cup). It took just a tiny bit of prodding to persuade her to star in the tale she was conjuring, about a shut-in with a highly specific sense of style. The results (“Emerald Fennell Casts Herself as the Eccentric Next Door”) had us yearning to discover what will come next from this incredibly talented director, writer, producer, and actor.
We wrap up the issue with directors in fields outside of film, like Maria Grazia Chiuri, Creative Director at Dior, who takes a look back at the collections she has designed since her arrival at the house, as well as the women who have inspired her along the way, including her daughter, Rachele Regini (“Collections Selection: Dior”). We also visit the MOCA director Klaus Biesenbach, who kept the museum going during the pandemic through a series of videos he conducted from a makeshift studio he built at home. When Executive Editor Armand Limnander told me that Biesenbach’s house was “large” and “sparse,” I had no idea what an original, one-of-a-kind space Biesenbach had created for himself and his pet goose, Cupcakes (“A Room of His Own”).
As the weather warms up and we finally leave the worst of the pandemic behind, we hope this issue brings you some much needed joy, conversation, glamour, and humor.