Virginie Viard was appointed the new artistic director at fashion powerhouse Chanel, following the passing of iconic designer Karl Lagerfeld in February 2019, making her one of the most talked-about women in fashion. It is the first time a female designer has taken the helm at Chanel since Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel herself.
Starting out at Chanel in 1987 (the introduction initially made by Prince Rainier of Monaco), Viard formed a close professional and personal relationship with the emblematic haute couture maven during 30 years of working for the label. Lagerfeld famously referred to her as “my right arm and my left arm,” and Viard also joined Lagerfeld at Chloé in 1992 for a five year stint, before returning to Chanel. Yet she always eschewed the limelight.
In 2000, Viard became director of Chanel’s creation studio, where she oversaw the haute couture, ready-to-wear and accessories collections, working closely with Lagerfeld on all 10 collections that Chanel produces each year.
The brand’s Cruise 2020 show at Grand Palais in Paris in May 2019 marked her first solo collection for the house since Lagerfeld’s passing.
Born into a family of silk manufacturers, Viard studied at Le Cours Georges fashion school in Lyon, and started out with costume production as assistant to Dominique Borg, working on the film Camille Claudel, before a chance meeting with Chanel. The rest is now, as they say, history.