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Chanel confirms departure of creative director Virginie Viard

Lauretta Roberts
06 June 2024

Chanel has confirmed the departure of its creative director Virginie Viard, who had taken over the role from the late, legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld five years ago.

Viard had been Lagerfeld's right-hand during his tenure and had been at the luxury French fashion house for 30 years.

In a statement the house 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 30 years within the house.

“A new creative organisation will be announced in due course. Chanel would like to thank Virginie Viard for her remarkable contribution to Chanel’s fashion, creativity and vitality.”

The house of Chanel has had only three creative directors in its history, which began in 1910. Lagerfeld had taken over from its founder Coco Chanel, while Viard stepped into the role following the death of Lagerfeld in 2019.

Her departure comes shortly after privately owned Chanel reported "exceptional growth" for the year ending 31 December 2023. Revenues were up by 16% to £15.5 billion ($19.7 billion) and operating profit was up by 10.9% to £5.04 million ($6.407 million). EBITDA was up by 9.4% to £5.42 million ($6.89 million).

Commenting on the results at the time CEO Leena Nair said: "The strong results we are announcing today reflect Chanel’s relentless focus on exceptional creations that inspire. They underline sustained investment in building the desirability of our brand, creating the ultimate luxury experience for our clients and supporting our people to grow and develop."

However its CFO Philippe Blondiaux did caution on more challenging market dynamics: "After three years of exceptional growth for our industry, we are now entering a more challenging environment. Against that backdrop, and following a record level of investment last year, Chanel will continue to increase investment in the year ahead, whether in our brand, our craftsmanship and savoir-faire, in the continued elevation of our client experience, in real estate, or in our boutique and distribution network."

Chanel's growth has, in no small part, been due to the hiking of prices of its handbags, which has drawn criticism from some in the market, who say the craftsmanship of its products does not warrant the increase. In addition some critics have said Viard's creative vision lacks the cohesion of her predecessor and rumours have been mounting that the house was looking for a new chief designer. Celine's Hedi Slimane has been mentioned as a potential target for Chanel and is said to be having contractural wrangles at present with the brand's owner LVMH.


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