Virginie Viard exits Chanel after five years as Artistic director
Virginie Viard, photographed by Karl Lagerfeld. ©Photo: Chanel

Virginie Viard exits Chanel after five years as Artistic director

Virginie Viard has left Chanel after five years as Artistic director, during which she significantly expanded the brand's ready-to-wear business.
June 6, 2024

Virginie Viard, Artistic director of fashion collections at Chanel, has left the iconic French luxury house after five years at the helm. Chanel confirmed Viard’s departure in a statement, citing her “rich collaboration” and ability to “renew the codes of the House while respecting Chanel’s creative heritage” during her tenure.

Chanel would like to thank Virginie Viard for her remarkable contribution to Chanel’s fashion, creativity and vitality,” the statement read. “A new chapter is opening for Chanel Mode. We are confident in the teams’ ability to ensure the continuity of the collections during this period of transition.”

Viard, 62, spent an impressive 30 years at Chanel and was a close collaborator of the legendary Karl Lagerfeld, who served as Creative director for more than three decades until his death in 2019. Lagerfeld once described their partnership by saying, “She is my right arm and my left arm.”

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Under Viard’s leadership, Chanel experienced tremendous growth and success. The brand’s ready-to-wear business multiplied 2.5 times, and grew an impressive 23% in 2022 alone. Chief Financial Officer Philippe Blondiaux praised her impact, saying, “From a consumer perspective and a brand perspective, Virginie has been a massive contributor.”

Viard’s appointment in 2019 marks a historic moment, as she is the first female designer to lead Chanel since Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel herself. Despite her long tenure at the company, Viard largely stayed out of the spotlight until taking on the top creative role.

Paris Fashion Week Men's and Haute Couture preview calendar for Summer 2024
Chanel Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2024. ©Photo: Chanel

As Chanel prepares to present Viard’s final collection for Fall/Winter 2024 at Paris Haute Couture Week in June, speculation is swirling about who will succeed her. Names like Hedi Slimane, a rumor that first surfaced in 2017 and which Chanel has consistently denied; or designers Pierpaolo Piccioli and Sarah Burton, who recently left key positions at Valentino and Alexander McQueen; as well as rising French star Simon Porte Jacquemus, have emerged as potential candidates. Chanel has yet to name a replacement, saying only: “A new creative organization for the House will be announced in due course.”

Viard staged her last show for Chanel in May, the Cruise 2025 (Resort 2025) collection, on a rooftop in the Mediterranean city of Marseille.

Viard’s fashion career began with an internship at Chanel in 1987. She quickly rose through the ranks, overseeing embroidery before following Lagerfeld to Chloé in 1992.

The duo returned to Chanel in 1997, with Viard serving as coordinator of haute couture. In 2000, she was named director of Chanel’s creation studio, working closely with Lagerfeld on the house’s 10 annual collections, which span haute couture, ready-to-wear and accessories.

Born in Lyon in 1962, the designer, whose grandparents were silk manufacturers, studied theater design before entering the fashion world as an assistant to costume designer Dominique Borg. Her signature punk aesthetic of kohl-rimmed eyes, blunt bangs, and all-black ensembles became an iconic look.

Read more: Pierpaolo Piccioli exits Valentino after 25 years