- Chanel‘s creative director and fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld died in Paris at the age of 85 on Tuesday morning. The cause of death is unclear.
- Virginie Viard will take over his role with the French fashion house, according to a statement shared by the brand on Instagram.
- After beginning her career in costume design, Viard, who The Cut described as Lagerfeld’s “right-hand woman,” yielded the late designer’s advice and joined Chanel as an intern in 1987.
- Between her early years with Chanel, a brief stint at Chloé in the early ’90s, and her return to the house as the coordinator for haute couture in 1997, Viard worked with Lagerfeld for over 30 years.
- Lagerfeld also had a strong friendship with Viard. Her extensive personal and professional history with the late designer will enable “the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld [to] live on,” Chanel’s statement said.
Chanel has lost its leading man in Karl Lagerfeld, who died in Paris at the age of 85 on Tuesday morning. The cause of death is unknown.
Shortly after the designer’s death, the French fashion house announced that Lagerfeld’s longtime protégé, Virginie Viard, will take his place as Chanel’s creative director.
“Virginie Viard, Director of CHANEL’s Fashion Creation Studio and Karl Lagerfeld’s closest collaborator for more than 30 years, has been entrusted by Alain Wertheimer [chairman of Chanel] with the creative work for the collections,” a statement shared by the brand on Instagram read.
According to Chanel’s statement, she was appointed “so that the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld can live on.”
Viard has worked closely with Lagerfeld for over 30 years, starting out as an intern with Chanel in the ’80s
Viard has been “somewhat of an enigma” to those outside the world of fashion, according to Sarah Spellings at The Cut.
Viard first joined Chanel as a haute-couture intern in 1987, just four years after Lagerfeld first joined the house. Between her early years with Chanel, her brief stint at Chloé beginning in 1992, and her return to the house as the coordinator for haute couture in 1997, Viard worked with the late Lagerfeld for more than 30 years.
During that span, she became “Lagerfeld’s closest collaborator,” according to Chanel’s statement.
“Virginie is the most important person, not only for me but also for the atelier, for everything,” Lagerfeld said of Viard in Netflix’s “7 Days Out”documentary series, per Who What Wear. “She is my right arm and even if I don’t see her, we are on the phone all the time.”
Viard has stepped in before to represent Lagerfeld at work, and they were friends outside of work
In an interview with W Magazine, Viard shared some insight into her friendship with Lagerfeld, and revealed his quirky habit of texting her as his beloved cat, Choupette.
“He signs them, Your Choupette,” she told W magazine in 2012. “He might not like that I’m saying this.”
The ultimate manifestation of Lagerfeld’s passing of the torch to Viard may have come in January 2019, when Lagerfeld skipped Chanel’s couture shows because he was feeling “tired.” Fittingly, Viard stepped up to take the final bow in his absence.
Now stepping into Lagerfeld’s shoes as Chanel’s creative director, Viard once almost chose a different career
Viard once told the French magazine Crash that she initially hoped to design theatre costumes for a living, and added that she only began her career in couture after Lagerfeld suggested that she join Chanel. Over 30 years later, she will be responsible for securing Lagerfeld’s legacy and guiding Chanel into the future.
Representatives for Chanel did not immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment.
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