One of today’s leading voices on girl culture is Sofia Coppola. To mark 25 years since her directorial debut, we’ve created the Celebrating Sofia Coppola UT Collection. Using scenes and phrases that embody her cinematic world, a place that is at times hauntingly ethereal and at times thrillingly powerful, we’ve designed a series of T-shirts that are bound to charm anyone. As an added bonus to this collection, Coppola produced a short film directed by up-and-coming artist Jeannie Sui Wonders that takes a lively look at average New Yorkers. We caught up with the two after they had wrapped up filming for “I <3 NYC.”
Q. How do you feel about the Celebrating Sofia Coppola UT collection?
I’m so happy to have this project celebrating my films, which are so much a part of my life. They are a great reminder to me of the collaborators I worked with on them and the creative experience we shared. I hope people will enjoy them.
Q. Is there anything specific you requested for this collection?
I asked my graphic designer, Peter Miles, who does the titles and posters for my films, to create the designs. So I feel that the T-shirts are deeply connected to them. The graphics incorporate lines from the film. We tried to find lines that conveyed some feeling from the film and might work out of context. Also, I wanted a boxy, easy-fitting T-shirt that is unisex.
Q. How do you want people to wear the shirts in this collection?
I like to wear T-shirts of artists and musicians who I love, so hope this UT means something to someone that likes my work. I always like how a T-shirt can connect you to other people who like the same thing you do!
Q. Which of the women in the 5 films featured in this UT collection do you feel closest to?
I feel connected to all of them. They all have part of me, but Charlotte in Lost In Translation was the most closely related to me in that time of my life.
Q. What do you think is the role of fashion in films?
I love how the costumes help create the characters and how fashion can transform and transport you.
Q. Name one film that you consider a classic.
Oh, it’s too hard to pick one. I loved watching films growing up and imagining the places I would go—and which parts of the adult women I saw in the movies I wanted to emulate. Among Japanese movies, I love Seven Samurai by Kurosawa.
Q. What are you future plans?
Right now, I’m focused on editing the film I just shot about Priscilla Presley. Each film feels like a challenge to me, including my latest.
Q. How did you meet Coppola?
I met her at my aunt’s [Anna Sui’s] fashion shows as a kid but got to know her on the set of The Beguiled. I was her assistant—not a very good one!—and learned a lot. She was so poised and calm, and that really set the tone for the production. She’s always been such a source of inspiration for me, and it was exciting to work with her.
Q. If you had to use just one word to describe Coppola as a creator, what would it be?
It’s hard to pick just one word, but maybe “interiority.” I really feel her characters’ experiences and emotions. And I love how she captures a certain specificity of the female experience.
Q. Where did the idea for “I <3 NYC” come from?
I think Sofia [Coppola]’s films are really inspired by the location that they take place in. So New York City, where we both live, was the inspiration for this. We didn’t want to reference her films too directly, but we did want it to be an homage to her influential style. The title is a play on the classic New York City slogan (“I ♡ NYC”), but with some nostalgia for emoticon texting.
Q. The focus on diverse racial representation in this film is impressive. How did you select the actors?
The two leads, Losel and Louis, are a couple that Sofia and I know. I’m good friends with them, so it was such a highlight getting to work with them. The ballet dancers are part of the New York City Ballet, which Sofia has worked with a lot. The makeup artist, Rommy, works in fashion. Kei’s a skater. Torraine’s a New York-based model. And Helena Howard is an actress who was in a video I shot for Sofia’s wine brand. The casting felt very natural. Everyone was sort of playing themselves.
Q. There are rabbits and dogs in the film.
I think both of animals capture a certain glamor and subtle playfulness in Sofia’s work.
Q. What was the most challenging scene to film?
The New York City ballet vignette, because it’s a world I don’t know well. I loved learning from the dancers and company about all the rules and rituals they have. What they wear to warm up. How they move during rehearsal. It’s all very specific.
Q. Which T-shirt is your favorite from this collection?
It’s a tie between the Lost in Translation shirt—because it looks so iconic—and the Marie Antionette shirt because of how much I love that film.
This T-shirt uses a shot of the beautiful Lisbon sisters waiting for their dates for the homecoming dance.
THE VIRGIN SUICIDES
The five beautiful Lisbon sisters are a source of mystery and obsession for the boys in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. But when the youngest sister, Celeste, commits suicide, it triggers a tragic chain of events.
This shirt is imprinted with a line that calls to mind the bittersweet farewell between Bob and Charlotte.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
Fading film star Bob Harris is in Tokyo to shoot a commercial when he meets Charlotte, a lost soul who is visiting the city with her photographer husband. Together, the two explore the city at night and begin to form a connection. The film is loosely based on Coppola’s own experiences.
This design encapsulates Marie Antoinette’s brazenness with a shot of her surrounded by her favorite cakes and a memorable line from the movie.
This movie depicts the life of Marie Antoinette, queen of France and wife of Louis XVI, with a vibe as colorful and airy as a macaron. The film was shot on location at the Palace of Versailles.
A line uttered by Johnny during a press conference is laid over the movie’s main visual.
Hollywood actor Johnny Marco is staying at an expensive hotel while recovering from an injury. He is divorced but has a daughter, Cleo, who lives with her mother. When Johnny ends up spending a few days living with Cleo, it gives him a chance to confront the emptiness he feels in his life.
This T-shirt features an iconic line spoken by Rebecca as she and her gang begin burglarizing a celebrity’s home for luxury brand items. The font is the same one used for the film’s title.
THE BLING RING
Based on the story of a real-life gang, the movie is a thrilling drama that depicts a gang of teenagers who break into the homes of Hollywood celebrities to steal luxury brand items.
Sofia Coppola｜Born in 1971 in New York, Coppola’s first feature-length film was The Virgin Suicides (1999). Since then, she has directed six more feature-length films. She won Best Director at the 70th Cannes Film Awards for her work on The Beguiled (2017).
Jeannie Sui Wonders｜Wonders was born in Michigan. After studying filmmaking at Harvard University, she began working as a writer and director. She has directed numerous commercials in addition to her own short films. She is currently based in New York and working on her first feature-length film.
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