- – Chanel‘s legendary creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, passed away at the age of 85.
- – Virginie Viard, his longtime collaborator for over 30 years and director of Chanel’s Fashion Creation Studio, will take over at the creative helm of the brand.
- – Chanel announced the news in a statement last night.
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Karl Lagerfeld held a prolific tenure at the helm of Chanel from 1983 to his final days in 2019. Who could possibly follow in the revolutionary designer’s footsteps? The French fashion house announced today that Virginie Viard, Lagerfeld’s right-hand, will take over the creative operations for the brand following the designer’s passing “so that the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld can live on.”
Here’s what you need to know about the new designer leading Chanel.
Viard started at Chanel as an intern.
Viard started at Chanel as an intern for haute-couture embroidery in 1987, The Telegraph reports. That’s just four years after Lagerfeld became creative director of the iconic French brand. The chamberlain of Prince Rainier of Monaco recommended her for the job.
She’s worked with Lagerfeld for over 30 years.
After working together at Chanel, Viard joined Lagerfeld at Chloé in 1992 and worked there for five years before returning to Chanel as the coordinator for haute couture, Viard told the French magazine Crash. She started working on ready-to-wear in 2000.
They worked very closely in their day-to-day.
“I make the collections come to life with the ateliers and the Métiers d’Art houses, based on Karl’s sketches,” Viard told The Telegraph in 2017. “I coordinate the teams, liaise with suppliers and choose fabrics. Then, of course, I do fittings with Karl. As soon as I receive his sketches, the process begins. I try to please him, but I like to surprise him too.”
Viard added that she and Lagerfeld speak “all the time” and they see each other every day. Sometime he sends her sketches via phone. “The complicity is total,” she added.
Lagerfeld of Viard in Netflix’s 7 Days Out documentary series, per Who What Wear: “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.”
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They were so close, sometimes he’d text her as his cat, Choupette.
Viard divulged to W magazine that Lagerfeld would text her in his beloved cat Choupette’s voice, sometimes accompanying the messages with a photo of his pet. “He signs them, Your Choupette,” she said. “He might not like that I’m saying this.”
Whether or not he minded the revelation of his playful texting habits, Lagerfeld and Viard’s friendship is undeniable. “She is my right rector Virginie Viard, hand and my left hand,” the late designer told ELLE for its November 2018 issue. “Our relationship is essential, doubled by a very real friendship and affection.”
She stepped in for his final bow at January’s couture show.
Last month, Lagerfeld was absent from Chanel’s couture shows in Paris because he “was feeling tired,” according to a statement from the French brand at the time. Viard took the final bow in his place, accompanied by model Vittoria Ceretti, who donned the final look: an embellished bridal swimsuit.
Viard has a background in costume design.
Viard hails from a fashion-loving family. Her grandparents were silk manufacturers, she told Crash. “I was also attracted to the industry, but most of all I wanted to make theater costumes,” she told the magazine. “I started in costume production as assistant to Dominique Borg, who notably produced costumes for Camille Claudel; then I was a costume designer for films and plays, until I met Karl, who suggested I work at Chanel and then Chloé.”
Though Viard ultimately worked in fashion, she did make impressive moves in the film realm, working with French actress Isabelle Adjani and director Bruno Nuytten. She also designed the costumes for Three Colors: Blue (1993), which starred Juliette Binoche, and Three Colors: White (1994) both directed by Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.
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