Virginie Viard says goodbye to Chanel

June 15, 2024

In an unexpected twist, Virginie Viard, the creative director who took over from Karl Lagerfeld, has announced her resignation from Chanel, the prestigious French fashion house. The news, reported by the likes of Business of Fashion and WWD, has sent shockwaves through the fashion world, surprising both the industry and fans of the brand.

Viard, who had been with Chanel for three decades and led the creative direction for five years, leaves the maison with a significant legacy. His work has been key to keeping Chanel's codes and creative heritage alive, demonstrating his ability to honour Lagerfeld's heritage while bringing his own distinctive touch. Despite his departure, Chanel has yet to issue an official statement, but Viard's contribution has been widely acknowledged by the company.

When Viard took over after Lagerfeld's death, her appointment was particularly significant. Not only was she the first woman to lead Chanel since founder Gabrielle Chanel, but she had also worked closely with Lagerfeld for more than twenty years. Her career at the company is a testament to her dedication and talent, starting as an intern in 1987 and rising through the ranks to become head of the creative studio.

Viard was born in Lyon and grew up in an environment where fashion and textiles were part of everyday life, as her grandparents owned a silk mill. Her professional relationship with Lagerfeld began at Chloé, before he brought her back to Chanel in 1997 to coordinate haute couture. This strong working relationship was instrumental in her taking over creative direction from her mentor.

At present, it is not known who will fill the vacant position, but prominent names such as Pierpaolo Piccioli, former creative director of Valentino, and Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen are under consideration. There is also speculation that Hedi Slimane, currently at Celine, may also join.

Despite Viard's departure, the autumn-winter 2024/25 haute couture collection will be presented as planned on 25 June at the Opéra Garnier, ensuring the continuity of Chanel's programme.

Virginie Viard's departure marks the end of an important era for Chanel, a house that has reinvented itself over the years. Viard has proved to be a worthy successor to Lagerfeld, carrying the essence of the maison with grace and vision. Her departure leaves a vacancy that will be difficult to fill, but also opens the door to new possibilities and the arrival of a fresh perspective that will undoubtedly continue to enrich Chanel's legacy. The fashion industry looks forward to seeing who will take on this crucial role next and how the narrative of one of the world's most iconic brands will evolve.

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