Virginie Viard portrait

Chanel Designer Virginie Viard to Exit the House

Karl Lagerfeld’s Successor Is Preparing To Leave Chanel

Chanel confirmed to The Impression that its creative director, Virginie Viard, is set to leave the storied house. The company will soon announce a new creative organization.

Teams were informed of Viard’s departure on Wednesday afternoon, allowing a brief window for farewells before she left Chanel’s historic base on Paris’ Rue Cambon.

In a statement issued late Wednesday night, Chanel said, “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 Métiers d’Art 2023 Fashion Show Atmosphere
Virginie Viard, Chanel Métiers d’Art 2023

Viard, who was a longtime deputy of Karl Lagerfeld and joined the house in 1987, took over as artistic director for fashion collections following Lagerfeld’s death in 2019.

During Viard’s tenure, Chanel saw a historic surge in sales, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. The company reported 2023 revenues of $19.7 billion, up more than 75 percent from 2018.

Chanel SS Haute Couture

At 62, Viard oversaw a vast fashion empire, including coveted handbags, fashion jewelry, footwear, and more. Chanel says ready-to-wear sales have expanded by a factor of 2.5 compared with 2018 under her direction. Viard continued Lagerfeld’s legacy while subtly re-tailoring signature items, such as $20,000 tweed jackets, with a lighter, more supple silhouette.

Despite maintaining its status as a preferred choice for wealthy women, Chanel faced online criticism regarding runway, red-carpet styling, and product quality as prices soared. The brand’s campaigns shifted frequently as Viard experimented each season with photographers Inez and Vinoodh, changing art direction as often as the clothes.

Viard’s exit is expected to fuel speculation about shake-ups in luxury fashion’s senior ranks. At LVMH, Celine creative director Hedi Slimane is reportedly in a contentious contract negotiation that could result in his departure. Other notable designers currently available include former Valentino director Pierpaolo Piccioli and former Alexander McQueen designer Sarah Burton.

Leadership changes are also occurring at various LVMH brands. Fendi recently named Pierre-Emmanuel Angeloglou as CEO, and Sidney Toledano has reportedly returned to assist in leading LVMH’s Fashion Group structure months after stepping down as the unit’s CEO.

Luxury brands are anticipating a challenging year with cooling demand in the US and Europe and declining consumer confidence in China. Kering, which owns Gucci, projected a 40 to 45 percent drop in first-half profits, and Burberry reported a 12 percent decline in sales for the first three months of 2024.