Virginie Viard Is Leaving Chanel

Virginie Viard is stepping down as the artistic director of Chanel—and with that, fashion’s most storied job is now open. Vogue Business confirmed the news on June 5, with the brand issuing a brief statement praising Viard’s tenure and promising that “a new creative organization will be announced in due course.” According to Business of Fashion, Viard’s team was only just informed of her departure this evening.

The designer, 62, has worked at Chanel for thirty years. Originally beginning as an intern for the house, Viard became one of the closest collaborators of her predecessor, Karl Lagerfeld. She rose to the position of director of Chanel’s Fashion Creation Studio before being announced as artistic director in 2019, shortly after Lagerfeld’s death.

Although Viard’s work since taking the helm had left many younger fashion critics (both professional and terminally online) wanting more, her designs resonated with Chanel’s customer base. Just weeks ago, the house touted that revenue was up 16 percent over the past year, with executives heaping praise on Viard. “From a consumer perspective and a brand perspective, Virginie has been a massive contributor,” chief financial officer Philippe Blondiaux told Women’s Wear Daily at the time.

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Chanel is privately owned by the notoriously private Wertheimer family, and it’s long been suspected that they prefer stability at the top. Lagerfeld had been the brand’s designer for thirty-six years until his death.

The surprise announcement of Viard’s move, of course, begs the question of who will replace her. Speculation among the fashion press and fans kicked off almost immediately, with various names being thrown about, though no leading contenders have emerged even in the rumor mill.

Paris couture week begins later this month. Chanel did not mention any specifics on who will design that collection, thought the Times reports that the show will continue as planned.

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