Virginie Viard to exit Chanel(2024)
























bonyadi magazine 







Chanel is parting ways with its creative director Virginie Viard, after thirty years at the Parisian house, the luxury fashion brand announced late Wednesday




Having joined Chanel some three decades ago, Viard, a faithful deputy to Karl Lagerfeld, took over as head of design at the fashion house in 2019, following the death of the iconic designer.


“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,” Chanel said in a terse statement






“Chanel would like to thank Virginie Viard for her remarkable contribution to Chanel’s fashion, creativity and vitality. 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,” the house continued











“A new creative organization for the House will be announced in due course,” said Chanel, without naming a successor





Chanel will continue to present its Autumn/Winter 2024/25 collection on June 25 at the Opéra Garnier, as part of Paris Haute Couture Week. When Viard will unveil her final creations for Chanel






Founded in 1910 by namesake designer Coco Chanel, the house is today owned by the billionaire brothers Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, whose fortunes are estimated at about $47.7 billion each, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.







Remarkably, the news comes two weeks after Chanel Ltd. announced that 2023 annual sales rose 16% on a comparable basis to $19.7 billion. Operating profit reached $6.4 billion. The Asia-Pacific region, which represents more than half of total revenue, led the growth. Though Paris-based, the brand is legally registered in the UK for tax purposes












That said, Chanel had clearly lost heat among consumers, as Viard struggled to create the same level of excitement as her brilliant predecessor Karl Lagerfeld




Moreover, much of Chanel’s sales growth in 2023 was driven by a 9% increase in pricing, Chief Financial Officer Philippe Blondiaux revealed when the house announced its latest results. While the Americas region – a bell-weather measure of how hot is any brand - was the weakest last year, registered a very tepid 2.4% increase in sales as higher inflation curbed demand from so-called aspirational customers. The demand picture in the US has been challenging over the last 18 months, Blondiaux admitted






The announcement will fuel speculation about her successor. Six weeks ago, reports that Hedi Slimane was in dispute with senior executives at LVMH-owned Celine led to the suggestion that he was a candidate to replace Viard






Inevitably, a slew of highly experienced designers who have recently left major positions – like Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino and Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen  will be mentioned as possible successors to Viard







Though the house could try to tempt a local designer to take over at Chanel, the most quintessentially French haute fashion label. Like Jacquemus, the hottest French-born talent on the scene currently






Viard staged her most recent show for Chanel on May, a cruise collection on a rooftop in the Mediterranean city of Marseille. Though, as if prescient about the future, a wild sea wind buffeted the cast as they strutted in cold weather in micro skirts and small tweed jackets on the rooftop of Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse






Chanel’s decision to jettison Viard also comes just one month after Bruno Pavlovsky, President of Fashion and Accessories at Chanel, denied that any change was in the wind






Virginie is doing extremely well. She is in full form and inspired by Marseille in this collection. You know, ever since she succeeded Karl Lagerfeld, certain people have chattered about other designers at Chanel. But I want to be clear. Chanel is not looking for a new artistic director. And you can print that!” Pavlovsky told


While Blondiaux told Bloomberg. “The CFO of Chanel is the happiest in the world to have Virginie as a designer.” And Chief Executive Officer Leena Nair said customers “love the silhouette and fit” of Viard’s creations.
Before staging her first collection for Chanel in 2019, Viard had been Lagerfeld’s assistant for over two decades, consistently at his side during all pre-show fittings for ready-to-wear, couture, métier d’art and cruise collections.

Asked about her role, Karl once famously responded: “She is my right arm and my left arm.”
During her tenure, Viard had moved the Chanel target market a good half-decade younger, riffing on punk and New Wave ideas, and surprising by her somewhat eccentric choice of location of many shows. The last three collections Virginie staged were all outside of Paris – in Dakar, Manchester and Marseilles. All held in cities which did not have a proper Chanel boutique.
Plus, where the brilliantly witty Lagerfeld was the cleverest conversationalist in Paris with a pithy phrase always at the ready in four languages, Viard was shy and retiring even. Barely able to produce a quote for editors backstage after a show.
Nonetheless, Viard, born in 1962 in Lyon, has had a remarkable career, since joining Chanel as an intern in 1987. When she was appointed Lagerfeld’s successor in 2019 many people had predicted she would be a stop-gap choice. But in her five years at the helm, Viard has staged some 30 shows, and seen Chanel’s total revenues double.
So, Virginie Viard will depart with her head held high on June 25.


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