Virginie Viard Leaves Chanel. Who Is Next?

Chanel released a statement on Wednesday that Virginie Viard was to leave the iconic French fashion house, and it sent waves across the industry, reaching far into popular culture. Many were speculating who would be the next designer stepping into the role with the names of Hedi Slimane, John Galliano and Jeremy Scott circulating fashion pages online. Virginie joined Karl Lagerfeld back in 1987 as an intern and went on to become Lagerfeld’s deputy for decades before assuming the position of creative director after his death in 2019.

Over the past few years she received tons of criticism for playing it too safe, but this was never going to be an easy shoe to fit. Chanel was previously helmed by Coco herself, and Karl Lagerfeld who was highly respected for his creativity. But with the criticism aside, the Chanel fashion business has been multiplied by 2.2 since Viard took over. The Chanel ready-to-wear business has been multiplied by 2.5, and the ready-to-wear business last year of Chanel grew by 23%.

Chanel stands as the crown jewel of the fashion industry, epitomizing the height of Parisian couture. The secretive Wertheimer family, known for their conservative approach, have always been seen as cautious stewards, unlikely to make radical changes that might destabilize their billion-dollar enterprise. Recent high-profile appointments at other luxury houses, such as Sabato de Sarno at Gucci, Seán McGirr at McQueen, and Daniel Lee at Burberry, have sparked mixed reactions. Chanel will undoubtedly want to avoid similar controversies.

The individual who takes on the creative mantle at Chanel will face intense scrutiny and excitement regarding their direction for this iconic brand, famed for its tweed and chain bags. The perennial creative challenge emerges: should they deliver the timeless classics that customers expect, or innovate with daring designs that captivate and surprise?

Deyvid Dimitrov
London-based content creator and editor of Goldfoil magazine.