Time to Say Goodbye: Virginie Viard is leaving Chanel

After a three-decade-long career and a five-year tenure as the artistic director at the storied fashion house, Karl Lagerfeld’s successor exits Chanel. A new creative organisation “will be announced in due course,” according to the Maison. The Haute Couture show at Opéra Garnier, scheduled for 25 June during Paris Fashion Week, will continue as planned. 

It was midnight in Paris when Chanel officially confirmed that Virginie Viard is stepping down from her duties as the artistic director of Chanel.  

The brief official statement said: “Chanel confirms the departure of Virginie Viard after a rich collaboration of five years as Artistic Director of Fashion collections, during which she was able to renew the codes of the House while respecting the creative heritage of Chanel, and almost thirty years within the House.” According to the company, a new creative organisation “will be announced in due course”. 

The 62-year-old designer spent the last 30 years at the iconic house. Viard worked alongside Karl Lagerfeld, as his most devoted right-hand contributor (he always described her jokingly as his right and left arm). Then when he suddenly passed away in February 2019, she took over the reins of the Maison. Her five-year tenure will be remembered for her elegant silhouettes, a modern approach to Chanel’s classic jackets, footwear and bags, a passion for the 80s, and unexpected show locations: the éphèmere catwalks in Dakar, Manchester, Marseille or at Carrières de Lumières in the South of France will be forever anchored in our hearts. She was also at the helm of the house when Chanel showed eye-dropping financial results. The company reported revenues of $19.7 billion in 2023, up more than 75 per cent over 2018, according to BOF.

However, fashion aficionados kept saying that Viard’s collection lacked relevance to the current state of fashion and that she could not seize the zeitgeist. Brand’s fans also missed the humour and jaw-dropping theatrical show decorations of her predecessor Karl Lagerfeld. Something was not right in the formula, so the spectulations were always there during her five-year tenure that somebody will take her place shortly. Now, as the news took the fashion industry by surprise, the rumours are back. Will Hedi Slimane leave Celine to take over Chanel? He always dreamed of creating couture, and Karl Lagerfeld appreciated his approach to fashion (he famously lost 30 kilos to fit in Slimane’s suits for Dior Homme). Other names circling include Pieraolo Piccioli who left Valentino just a few months ago, Jeremy Scott who has a humourous and funny approach to fashion, and Sarah Burton, who stepped down from Alexandre McQueen last year and is now available for a new adventure.

Courtesy: Chanel

Text: Lidia Ageeva