Sofia Coppola's Films Are Providing Endless Beauty Inspo for Gen Z Fans

Coppola Coded Beauty Through Film

(Image credit: @camrihewie; @aysha.sow; @amaka.hamelijnck, @sarahhsol; @tamaramory; @sabinasocol; @alllisonho; @emmanuellek_)

Gen Z Says is a bimonthly column chronicling the latest trends in the fashion and beauty space through the lens of Who What Wear's own Gen Z editors. Expect a download on the upcoming class of tastemakers, emerging designers, and shopping and style choices straight from the generation setting the trends.

If I could introduce myself as being written and directed by Sofia Coppola before diving into the nitty-gritty details of life, I would. I, like so many self-identified cinephile Gen Zers, have been a longtime admirer of her work, finding comfort and inspiration in the ambiance created by her mostly female-led films. The release of Coppola's first book last year—Sofia Coppola Archive: 1993-2023—was followed by the premiere of Priscilla this past November and sparked what could only be described as the beginning of another social media–led aesthetic movement.

The aesthetic was playfully dubbed "Coppolacore" and "the Coppola effect," and social media platforms have become heavily populated with imagery of girlhood, quietly highlighting its complexities through rose-colored lenses. The unique emotions Coppola can evoke through every frame of her films, which are noticeably light on dialogue and heavy on symbolism, have built an entire world, playing off similarities and differences between a number of the filmmaker's most recognizable characters. For example, Lux Lisbon—the fictional love-lorn teenager in her 1999 film The Virgin Suicides—is a far cry from Coppola's take on the very real stories of Priscilla Presley and Marie Antoinette but possess an aesthetic that's purely Coppolan in nature. 

The filmmaker's characters live on through the lasting impression left on fashion and film lovers alike, intersecting in the best ways. Below is my love letter to these three leading ladies, whose style influences have extended across multiple generations. I'm detailing their memorable beauty looks along with products every Coppola-loving person can use to re-create them.

TVS Gen Z Says Coppola Coded

(Image credit: American Zoetrope/Kobal/Shutterstock; art by Joanna Bauer)

So much has been said about the girls over the years, but we have never found an answer.

The Virgin Suicides

From an outsider's perspective (namely the teenage boys watching from across the street), The Virgin Suicides's Lux Lisbon is enigmatic and unattainable. At only 17, she's entranced with all the world has to offer outside of the walls of her home, and her effortless and youthful style is a pure reflection of that. We, as viewers, watch as Lux explores her sexuality and autonomy without ever truly knowing how her mind works. Like the rest of her sisters, her story is riddled with mystery, and we're left wondering who she truly was.

I can only imagine how Coppola pieced together the multifaceted character whose legacy, through Kirsten Dunst's portrayal, heavily influenced the Americana "girl next door" look of the 2000s. Lux Lisbon is, by far, one of the most heartbreakingly relatable teenage girls on film to date, and I've finally pinned down her look with the help of a few rewatches and the Sofia Coppola Archive.

Marie Antoinette Coppola Coded

(Image credit: Columbia/American Zoetrope/Sony/Kobal/Shutterstock; art by Joanna Bauer)

Oh, you were not what was desired, but that makes you no less dear to me. A boy would have been the son of France, but you, Marie Thérèse, shall be mine.

Marie Antoinette

I've loved this film since watching it for the first time as a coquette-obsessed high school student. I wasn't much older than the actual Marie Antoinette was when she was crowned Queen of France in May 1774. Coppola's Marie Antoinette is a feast for the senses with pastel-hued macarons, an eye-catching floral robe à la française, and a score composed of 2000s rock anthems and 18th century harpsichord melodies. Played by Dunst, we see a young Marie Antoinette living the decadent lifestyle that underscored the French Revolution while she struggles to be accepted at court and give birth to an heir. The film follows her rise and fall as a monarch, and viewers are met with bittersweet images of girlhood, womanhood, and motherhood.

Unlike adapting a character from a book as Coppola did with Lux in The Virgin Suicides, the filmmaker was met with the challenge of bringing a historical figure back to life who we've only seen in official portraits. Marie Antoinette's style shifts slightly throughout the movie, with wigs growing gradually in height, complexions becoming increasingly powdered, and cheeks gaining a noticeably rosy tint as the queen falls in love with all France has to offer. Scroll on for my modern-day interpretation of her signature look.

Priscilla Gen Z Says Coppola Core

(Image credit: Courtesy of A24; art by Joanna Bauer)

You're losing me to a life of my own.


The moment I saw the behind-the-scenes shots of Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Presley, I was in love. Her performance as the king of rock and roll's commonly misunderstood queen was second to none and highlighted by iconic looks drawn directly from photographs of the family. This time, audiences are introduced to a teenage girl who became American royalty and will forever be associated with Elvis Presley. Their tumultuous relationship, however, takes center stage in this movie, putting Priscilla front and center.

That's not to say that Priscilla's beauty looks take a back seat. Within the first 20 seconds of the film, we're confronted with her signature winged eyeliner and sky-high hair. A few years into their marriage, Priscilla's style shifts as her life begins to decenter itself from Elvis. Suddenly, we're not seeing her ink-black beehive hair or oversize lashes anymore and are introduced to the new and improved version of her that dresses for no one but herself.

Maya Thomas
Assistant Beauty Editor
Maya Thomas is Who What Wear's assistant beauty editor based just outside of Seattle, Washington. Her strong love for all things beauty and fashion stems from a strong childhood interest in the fine arts. During a gap year spent in Paris studying the history of French fashion, she shifted her focus to English literature and journalism as a student at Loyola Marymount University with the goal of one day pursuing a career in fashion. After graduating in May 2021, Maya began freelancing for as a contributing commerce writer while also building a following on her lifestyle blog, When she's not writing, Maya spends her free time catching up on reading, perusing art galleries, and enjoying a night out at the ballet every now and then.