Virginie Viard Is Leaving Chanel

The end of an era.

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After 30 years at Chanel, Virginie Viard is officially leaving the French label. The brand confirmed the news June 5 in an official statement to Business of Fashion, where they also thanked Viard for her efforts and ability to “renew the codes of the house while respecting the creative heritage of Chanel,” during her three-decade run, of which five years were spent as creative director (following the death of her longtime mentor Karl Lagerfeld).

After graduating from French fashion school Le Cours Georges, where she specialized in film and theatrical costume, Viard got her start as an assistant to costume designer Dominique Borgfirst. Following that brief stint, she began her journey with Chanel in 1987, where she first worked as an embroiderer under the leadership of Lagerfeld. The young creative then followed the designer when he joined Chloe (for his second stint) in the early ‘90s and when he ultimately returned to Chanel in 1997. Virginie reentered the brand as director of the fashion design studio. In the early aughts she was promoted to director of Chanel’s creation studio, where she managed the haute couture, ready-to-wear, and accessories categories, working alongside Lagerfeld on all his collections. After his death in 2019, Viard took the reins as artistic creative director of the fashion house, with Chanel's Resort Cruise 2020 collection marking her first solo show.

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And while Lagerfeld often leaned toward the more showy and whimsical, Viard quickly became known for her practicality, approachability, and her dedication to great craftsmanship. Under her leadership, the brand saw a historic surge in sales in 2023, with revenues hitting a staggering $19.7 billion, a 16% increase from the year prior, according to reporting by B of F.

The brand has yet to name a successor for Viard, simply stating that “a new creative organization will be announced in due course.”