Who Is Karl Lagerfeld’s Successor?

Virginie Viard takes the reins

Virginie Viard Chanel

Words by Nicole Thomsen
March 5th, 2019

Rumours surrounding who would take over from Karl Lagerfeld when the time came for him to step down from his position as artistic director of Chanel have permeated the fashion industry in recent months and years. Though the German couturier vowed to never stop designing, stating, “I do my job like I breathe — so if I can’t breathe I’m in trouble,” when Phoebe Philo departed Céline it was suggested that she was poised to take over at Chanel. However, when Lagerfeld passed away at the age of 85 just two weeks ago, all speculation was quashed as Virginie Viard was announced almost immediately as Chanel’s new artistic director.

The little-known French designer has been described as Lagerfeld’s right-hand woman, working closely alongside him for more than 30 years after joining Chanel in 1987 as an haute couture intern and working her way up to fashion studio director. In an episode of the Netflix documentary series, 7 Days Out, released in 2018, Lagerfeld said, “Virginie is the most important person, not only for me but also for the atelier, for everything. She is my right arm and even if I don’t see her, we are on the phone all the time.”

After presenting Lagerfeld’s final collection at the Grand Palais in Paris this morning, Viard will now be tasked with continuing the creative legacy of her longtime collaborator and predecessor, and design six collections a year. It is expected that the Resort 2020 collection, which normally shows in May, will be her first.

As artistic director, Viard will be the first women at the helm of the French luxury brand since Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel herself.