Before SOFIA COPPOLA’S new film SOMEWHERE hits cinemas, the director sat down for an interview with StyleList.

SOFIA’S eye has been refined through a long association with the fashion industry, including launching her own label with a college friend (MILKFED, which the partners have since sold to their Japanese investor). She began as a 15 year old with a dream internship at CHANEL in Paris, working in close proximity to KARL LAGERFELD.

“He was very friendly and very nice,” Ms. Coppola recalled, looking relaxed in a gray CELINE sweater and brown corduroy pants by her friend MARC JACOBS.

“I thought it would be more intimidating, but he was very sweet with the interns and it was just interesting for me to watch someone so creative who does so many different things.”

SOFIA has gone on to many other fashion industry collaborations, including designing a handbag and shoe line with LOUIS VUITTON and an ongoing relationship shooting commercials for DIOR fragrances. (The next one comes out in 2011.)

SOMEWHERE is the story of a dissolute actor (JOHNNY MARCO, portrayed by STEPHEN DORFF) living at L.A.’s famous CHATEAU MARMONT, whose life begins to have meaning following a visit by his neglected daughter CLEO, played by ELLE FANNING.

The fashion in the film is subtle: STEPHEN spends most of his time in vintage 1940s Red Wing boots, beatup Levis and hip T shirts.

“California is much more casual,” said SOFIA. She considers herself a west coast woman at heart, despite living in Paris and having been born in New York City.

“New Yorkers are a little bit more dressed up – they’re closer to Europe maybe, the more east you go. But I feel like nowadays, with the internet, there is not as huge a difference as when I was a kid, when you would see a big difference between places, because everyone is looking at the same references.”

SOFIA brightened when asked about one striking fashion moment in the film, when ELLE FANNING (who was tall and athletically built at 11 when she made the film and is even bigger a year later) dons a beautiful pale pink gown to attend an awards show.

“I actually bought that dress. It was my dress but I’d never worn it. It’s Prada. I bought it at that store Corso Como when I was in Milan one time, but I never ended up wearing it. So I ended up giving it to Elle.”

SOFIA COPPOLA’S most treasured memory of THE CHATEAU MARMONT, a famous nexus of the Los Angeles film and creative communities, was of meeting legendary fashion photographer HELMUT NEWTON.

“He was a hero of mine. I met him in the elevator and I got to talk to him and tell him how much I admired him. He actually had sent me a photograph because I wrote an article about him, so I was really happy that I got to thank him in person. It was the day he died.”

In 2004, HELMUT NEWTON, who lived in the hotel, lost control of his car as he was leaving the garage – possibly as the result of a heart attack – and was killed when it struck a wall across the street.

“In the movie, there’s a crashed car that’s a reference to him.”

As for her own personal style, SOFIA said that she’s partial to CELINE, MARC JACOBS and LOUIS VUITTON shoes, which her friend designs.

“I’m not as sloppy as Johnny Marco, but even when I’m working, I like to have a uniform: I wear the same jeans and shirts. And I have a bunch of button down shirts made at Charvet in Paris so I don’t have to think about what to wear. For work, I wear sneakers because I’m on my feet all day, but in the evening, I like to wear a heel.”

Despite this laid back confession, the director also really likes dressing up: “It’s fun sometimes, especially at movie premieres – because in real life I don’t make that kind of effort.”

SOMEWHERE opens in theatres on DECEMBER 22.


  1. hmm…

    maybe of interest. this went out december 21 to those on the landmark theater mailing list. well, the houston, tx branch got this…

    Dear Film Club Members,

    I was living in Paris after Marie Antoinette and thinking about what I wanted to write about, when I started the script for Somewhere. The idea of this L.A. actor guy came to mind and when a friend would visit from the U.S. and bring an American tabloid, it made me think about doing something about L.A. today. I loved movies like Shampoo and American Gigolo that captured Los Angeles and wanted to try to do that for this time.

    There were also a few stories of actors in personal crisis — they seemed to have girls throwing themselves at them and to be partying a lot — and I tried to imagine what that would really be like all the time. After Marie Antoinette was so girly, I wanted to try to write something from a guy’s point of view. My friend’s 12 year old daughter was the inspiration for the character of Cleo, played by Elle Fanning. I had just had a baby and was thinking about how that affects you and wanted to put that in the story.

    I started writing after doing a commercial with the cinematographer Harris Savides and we were talking about what we liked and didn’t like about making movies – and how simply you could make a movie…and it got me excited with the idea of making a minimal portrait of this guy. I wanted to show just a moment in his life where he has to decide what kind of a person he’s going to be and I put in what I thought was funny and touching.

    We shot the summer of 2009 in room 59 at The Chateau Marmont and around L.A., with a week in Milan.

    —Writer/Director Sophia Coppola

  2. I haven’t seen all of SOFIA’S work. But I really dug THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and LOST IN TRANSLATION.

    SOFIA’S a real artist. She has a unique vision all her own. She makes films that are very different than her father FRANCIS. But they’re both so amazingly gifted that it’s fun to compare and contrast. I’m always fascinated and intrigued by what the Coppolas are up to in a creative sense.

    Thanks so much for that, my wondrous southern gentleman…

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