When Sofia Coppola was a fashion-obsessed teenager in the 1980s, she spent two summers interning at Chanel’s headquarters, in Paris. The memories and images of that time have stuck with her since: the way Veronica Webb wore a bouclé jacket with ripped jeans; Tina Chow posing against the mirror-backed stairway in the couture salon on rue Cambon; party photos of Princess Caroline of Monaco draped in pearls and gold chains. “It was bright and fun and playful,” Coppola says. “When I think of Chanel, I think of that era.”
Over the years, the filmmaker’s relationship with the house has evolved into a collaborative friendship. Coppola and the creative director Virginie Viard bonded over their love for the classic pieces and design elements that show up season after season, so when Viard decided to build her first Métiers d’Art collection around those iconic codes, she invited Coppola to lend her aesthetic sensibility to an evening at the Grand Palais.
Coppola took time off from editing her forthcoming film, On the Rocks, and went to the atelier to consult with Viard on everything from the music to the set to the dinner venue, even suggesting a few additions to the line, like a simple silk T-shirt meant to be worn under a blazer. “Watching her work with all the different teams, you can see that she’s really in her element,” Coppola says of the famously private designer. “I think she’s shy, which I relate to. And she’s very, very nice and straightforward. She’s a chic Parisian woman who makes people feel at ease.”
Working with the set designer Stefan Lubrina, Coppola envisioned the runway show as a fresh, energetic homage to Coco Chanel’s early presentations, when models descended those mirrored stairs into a carpeted room filled with editors and buyers seated on ballroom chairs. “It’s more intimate, the way they used to do it in the couture salons,” -Coppola says. “I’ve always loved that tradition.”
Inspired by a visit to Coco Chanel’s apartment, which is filled with symbols and good luck charms like bunches of golden wheat and a chandelier with arms shaped like the number “5,” Coppola, Lubrina, and the Chanel Image team constructed a series of intimate backstage salons for guests to explore before and after the show. They hung replicas of the chandelier over the main floor, which descended to the dreamy opening bars of Roxy Music’s “To Turn You On” as the model Vittoria Ceretti made her entrance.
After the show, everyone headed to La Coupole, a traditional haunt where Karl Lagerfeld and his gang used to hang out, for dinner and dancing. “Virginie wanted it to feel personal,” Coppola says. “So each of us hosted a table, and it had a really nice family atmosphere.” Late at night, Coppola padded around the Ritz in hotel slippers with friends and family, including her brother, Roman, and the actress Rashida Jones, giving the experience a slumber party feel. “There’s genuine warmth, and everyone’s so enthusiastic about what they’re doing,” Coppola says of the collaborative mood at the house. “It was really nice how Virginie included me. It was my kid fantasy to do a fashion show.” Here, Coppola’s photo diary from the show.