Every Designer Rumored To Be Taking Over for Virginie Viard at Chanel

Fashion’s game of creative director musical chairs has been a whirlwind ride for a while now. Seemingly every week, there is a new announcement about a designer leaving or joining a major brand. Recently, speculation has surrounded Dries Van Noten and Givenchy, specifically. The Internet has been guessing ad nauseam who will fill the empty spots (founder Dries Van Noten’s final collection will show on June 22, while Givenchy remains without a creative director since Matthew Williams’s exit in December 2023). On Wednesday, however, those conversations screeched to a halt, and all attention turned to Chanel: after 30 years at the brand, and five in the top spot, Virginie Viard was stepping down as creative director of the French house. Arguably the biggest job in fashion has officially opened up.

The news sent the fashion sect into a tailspin, and discussions around Viard’s legacy, as well as the reasoning for her short tenure, took off. Above all else, one major question dominated the conversation: Who will take over as creative director of Chanel? Thanks to those aforementioned musical chairs, there are quite a few designers currently available, and likely some who would do anything to get out of their current contracts for a shot at the position. Below, we break down every name spinning around the rumor mill, from the more likely contenders to the long shots.

Hedi Slimane

Lagerfeld and Slimane at the Dior Homme spring/summer 2003 show in July 2002.

Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/French Select/Getty Images

It seems that the general consensus surrounds current Celine creative director, Hedi Slimane, as the number-one contender for the Chanel job right now. Rumors have been circulating about Slimane’s impending departure from Celine, so the timing of Viard’s exit has definitely raised some eyebrows. Karl Lagerfeld, himself, was an outspoken fan of Slimane’s work, specifically at Saint Laurent and Dior Homme, where Slimane worked previously. In fact, Lagerfeld loved Slimane so much, he lost 90 pounds to fit into the designer’s suits. Before Lagerfeld passed, there were already rumors that the German designer was preparing Slimane to take over the role. And while that never came to be, the conversation around Slimane and Chanel hasn’t ceased. While Lagerfeld is of course no longer with us, it’s certain his 36 years at the brand means he has some posthumous influence.

But Lagerfeld wasn’t the only big hitter who saw a future for Slimane at Chanel. In 2016, Christian Lacroix spoke to the Daily Front Row about his own visions for Slimane, who interned at Lacroix for a year. “I would like to see him either at Dior or at Chanel, if that’s possible,” Lacroix said of the young designer at the time. “I know he was quite close to Karl, and Karl is clever enough to perhaps say, one day, that Hedi might be the one and only who’s able to do it himself. I don’t know, but for me, he deserves such houses.”

Jeremy Scott

Scott and Lagerfeld at a party in Paris in 2001.

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If we’re discussing designers with Lagerfeld’s seal of approval, Jeremy Scott, former creative director of Moschino, must also be in the mix. Lagerfeld once told Le Monde magazine that Scott was the only designer who could take over Chanel after him, and of course, Scott proved during his time at Moschino that he understands the Chanel ethos (in a tongue-in-cheek way). Scott was known to play off the Chanel house codes within his collections, once combining recognizably Chanel pieces with fast-food iconography in his fall 2014 collection for the Italian brand. It would be a big shift for Chanel, a house that takes itself seriously, but Scott has proven to be very much the chameleon.

Plus, there’s the consideration that, following his departure from Moschino last year, Scott is available for a new position. While one can speculate on Slimane’s standing at Celine, he is, for all intents and purposes, gainfully employed at the moment. On the other hand, fashion journalist Dana Thomas ran into Scott in Paris last summer and he admitted that he was apartment hunting in the French city. An excerpt from their chat has gone viral since news of Viard’s departure, and it’s easy to understand why.

“Ah, you’re getting a new job here.”

“I can’t talk about it.”

“Well, if you go to Chanel, you have to give me the scoop, since I wrote that Times piece about you 25 years ago,” I said, with a laugh.

Jeremy got visibly nervous.

“What, are you going to Chanel?” I asked.

He looked at the sky, then left and right.

“You’re going to Chanel, aren’t you?”

“I gotta go,” he said.

And he spun around and left the party.

Pierpaolo Piccioli

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On the topic of designers in between gigs, there is also Pierpaolo Piccioli, who has been lying low since his departure from Valentino in March. Less emphasis has been placed on the possibility of the Italian designer heading to Chanel, but his name has definitely been thrown around. He does have experience with couture collections, which would be helpful if he were to take over at the French house. And there are only so many places one can go after Valentino—Chanel being one of them.

Sarah Burton

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Sarah Burton is in a similar boat as Piccioli—a talented, well-liked designer who recently left a successful tenure at another major brand. When Burton stepped down as the creative director of Alexander McQueen last fall, her name started popping up in chats about other houses—accelerated, of course, by the Viard departure announcement. There are very few female creative directors currently in the industry, so it would be nice to see Viard replaced by another woman, and Burton seems like the most likely among those available. For the most part, though, rumors around Burton’s next step have been mostly focused on Givenchy. In fact, Lauren Sherman was speculating about the move in Puck back in November, before Williams even departed the French house, and rumors have only increased since then. “If Burton, who is not yet 50, wants to keep designing clothes, if she doesn’t want to go make art or take up gardening, Givenchy feels right,” Sherman said.

Marc Jacobs

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Of course, there’s also Marc Jacobs, who yes, is busy with his own line, but proved during his time at Louis Vuitton that he has no problem juggling two jobs and blending distinct house codes with his own style. In fact, back in 2005, Jacobs expressed great interest in the head position at Chanel. “Chanel would be the scariest job in the world to get, but it would also be the coup de grâce,” he told New York magazine almost twenty years ago.“I’d be scared to death and thrilled, but it’s the only thing I’d love to do other than what I’m doing right now. If that’s all that’s left, then that’s not such a bad thing.” Other than Twitter dreamcasts, though, there isn’t a lot of evidence that Jacobs will be moving to Paris anytime soon.

Haider Ackermann

Lagerfeld and Ackermann in 2014.

Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/French Select/Getty Images

paris france march 01

Slimane and Scott aren’t the only two designers in whom Lagerfeld expressed interest. Back in 2010, the German designer told Numero that his choice at the moment was Haider Ackermann. The two were quite friendly in the 2010s, and Ackermann was, naturally, flattered by Lagerfeld’s statement. “What can one possibly say to such a phrase?” Ackermann told WWD in response. “Such a compliment! Honored I feel, how can one not be? In all honesty tremendously, immensely touched, especially coming from Monsieur Lagerfeld.” Of course, that means Ackermann has come up in the conversation now that Chanel is once again looking for a creative director, though it seems many believe the designer is more likely to take up the reins at Dries Van Noten.

John Galliano

Galliano and Lagerfeld at the Dior Mens autumn/winter 2008/2009 show in January 2008.

Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/French Select/Getty Images

john galliano karl lagerfeld

Now it’s time to get into some of the more far-fetched possibilities, starting with John Galliano. The designer has had quite the year so far, making a big splash with his Maison Margiela Artisanal 2024 show in January, then dressing some of the biggest names on the Met Gala red carpet last month. Still, it’s unclear whether Galliano would want to leave Margiela, considering his success at the brand. Plus, while many (like Anna Wintour) have forgiven the designer for his past controversies, we’re not sure a house like Chanel would be willing to take on a still-polarizing character. Even Lagerfeld (who made quite a few of his own transgressive comments in his time) was angry with Galliano after the British fashion designer went on a drunken, antisemitic and racist rant in 2010. “It’s a horrible image for fashion because they think every designer and everything in fashion is like this,” Lagerfeld told WWD in 2011. “I’m furious with him because of the harm he did to LVMH and Bernard Arnault, who is a friend, and who supported him more than he supported any other designer in his group.”

Phoebe Philo

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phoebe philo at the

If Twitter was fan-casting the Chanel creative director role, one of their top choices would be Phoebe Philo. It’s not surprising, considering Philo has enjoyed a strong, dedicated fanbase for decades now, and was even dubbed “the Chanel of her generation” by Cathy Horyn in 2006. Unfortunately for the Philofiles, however, this one seems like a pretty big long shot. Philo just reentered the world of fashion following a very long hiatus, and she seems to be enjoying working for herself at the moment. The designer has expressed interest in the independence one gets when working at their own brand, a luxury that she would not be afforded at Chanel.

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