From the pâtisserie pastels of Marie Antoinette to the carefully decorated Lisbon girls’ bedrooms in The Virgin Suicides, Sofia Coppola has spent her two decades as a filmmaker proving herself as a master of detail—and of capturing a spirit of femininity that is both frilly and a little frightening. (The chokehold her films had over the Tumblr era cannot be overstated.) When it comes to Coppola’s favored visual themes, however, she may have hit her zenith with Priscilla: an adaptation of Priscilla Presley’s best-selling 1985 memoir Elvis and Me, the film chronicles her relationship with the King, beginning when she was just 14. And frankly, it looks good enough to eat.
Priscilla, shot on an impressively tiny budget in 30 days in Canada and starring Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi as the Presleys, presents a world brought to life through meticulous attention to detail—from recreations of the interiors of Elvis Presley’s Memphis mansion Graceland to a Vegas casino lit with gold lamé palm trees to recreations of 1960s newspaper clippings, plane tickets, magazines, and wallpaper. This immaculate production design was headed up by Tamara Deverell, best known for her work with director Guillermo del Toro. (It seemed clear that viewers were in for something special, when, in an interview prior to the release of the film, Coppola said that she and Deverell had talked about their version of Graceland “looking like a wedding cake.”)
Deverell had never been to Graceland, so, in order to build her recreation on a Toronto soundstage, she embarked on a “fast and intensive” research process, looking specifically to capture how the house looked from Priscilla’s arrival in 1963—and how it transformed over the course of her time living there, until she moved out a decade later. “We clung to a couple of these images that we had of Priscilla arriving in Graceland,” Deverell tells Vogue. “I really didn’t want to focus on Elvis.”
Instead, Deverell created a version of Graceland that honors historical accuracy (such as in her reproduction of Graceland’s gate, covered in musical notes) as well as the more abstract mood of the film, imagining how the house would look from a young Priscilla’s perspective. “Graceland was the family home, and we really wanted it to reflect what Priscilla was feeling inside,” she says. “And this [translated to] creams and whites and blues and golds, very pretty and very luxurious.” The house changes subtly over time, reflecting how real people redecorate, but the feel of the main rooms stays the same throughout the film—buttery curtains, pearly walls, deep rugs Priscilla sinks into to do her homework and play with her puppy. She is discouraged from going outside, and, as a cruel Presley cousin barks at her, making ‘a spectacle of herself.’”