Virginie Viard Departs Chanel

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Virginie Viard’s 5 years at Chanel, which began in 2019 following the death of Karl Lagerfeld, has been a period of both continuity and change for the iconic fashion house. Her departure from Chanel (announced on June 5, 2024) has been a significant topic in the fashion world. Viard has faced a range of praise and criticisms regarding her collections. Many industry insiders and critics felt that her designs lacked the innovation and excitement that characterized Lagerfeld’s tenure. (thefashionspot.com)

photo courtesy @helen_money

Accomplishments

One of Viard’s primary accomplishments was ensuring a smooth transition after Lagerfeld’s passing. Having worked closely with Lagerfeld for over three decades, she was well-versed in the brand’s ethos and aesthetic, which helped maintain continuity.

Viard was praised for her deep respect for Chanel’s heritage. She often revisited classic Chanel elements, such as tweed suits, camellias, and pearls, ensuring the brand’s identity remained intact.

Many appreciated Viard’s focus on wearability and practicality in her collections. Her designs often prioritized comfort and ease, appealing to a broader, more contemporary audience.

Under her leadership, Chanel continued to perform well financially. The brand reported significant revenue growth, with a 16% increase in 2023, indicating robust sales despite global economic challenges.

Viard maintained Chanel’s reputation for extravagant and imaginative runway shows. Notable examples include recreating the streets of Paris inside the Grand Palais and transforming the venue into a Mediterranean beach.

Praise

Viard’s work was often praised for its subtle elegance and understated luxury, contrasting with Lagerfeld’s more theatrical and elaborate style.

Many noted her feminine touch, which brought a softer, more romantic feel to the collections. This approach resonated well with certain segments of Chanel’s clientele.

Viard’s deep knowledge of the atelier and craftsmanship ensured that the intricate detailing and high-quality construction that Chanel is known for continued to shine through in her collections.

Criticism

One of the most common criticisms of Viard’s tenure was a perceived lack of innovation. Critics argued that her collections were often too safe and repetitive, failing to bring fresh ideas to the brand.

Some critics felt that her designs lacked the bold creativity and forward-thinking vision that characterized Lagerfeld’s work. Reviews often described her collections as tepid and uninspired.

While some collections received positive feedback, others were harshly criticized. For example, the latest Cruise 2025 collection faced significant backlash for being ill-fitting and poorly proportioned ​(thefashionspot.com)​​​.

Despite maintaining strong sales, some fashion insiders believed that Viard’s work did not generate the same level of excitement or cultural impact as her predecessor’s.

Notable Collections

Virginie Viard’s first solo collection Cruise 2020 as creative director was well-received for its fresh take on Chanel’s nautical themes and elegant simplicity.

Viard’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection stood out for its playful mix of classic Chanel motifs with modern, streetwear-inspired elements.

Viard’s Metiers d’Art 2021 collection was celebrated for highlighting the exceptional craftsmanship of Chanel’s artisan partners and their excellence.

Virginie Viard’s tenure at Chanel was a mix of reverence for the past and cautious steps into the future. While she was successful in maintaining the brand’s legacy and achieving strong financial results, her period as creative director was marked by significant debate about the balance between innovation and tradition. As Chanel moves forward, her time will likely be remembered for its stability and continuity, providing a solid foundation for the next creative chapter.

photo courtesy @lilmissluxe

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I loved VV and i am surprised at all the backlash on her. I have bought many pieces from her time at Chanel.

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