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Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard

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Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard
Virginie Viard photographed by Karl Lagerfeld

The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard, Director of Chanel’s Fashion Creation Studio

We may know little about Karl Lagerfeld’s successor, but Virginie Viard definitely knows everything about Chanel and its values. The new creative director hates being in the spotlight she used to say, but she will be for a while now since her new role marks the first time a female designer is taking the helm of the brand since Gabrielle Chanel herself.

Viard, the eldest of five siblings, was raised in Lyon, France, her father a ski champion turned surgeon and her maternal grandparents silk manufacturers. Growing up, she thought Chanel to be old. The designer studied at a fashion school in Lyon, Le Cours Georges, where she specialized in film and theatrical costume.

Viard was actually recommended for an internship to Karl Lagerfeld by Prince Rainier of Monaco’s head of protocol, a family friend. She joined Chanel as an intern in haute-couture embroidery in 1987–four years after Lagerfeld.

In 2017 she told The Telegraph: “I make the collections come to life with the ateliers and the Métiers d’Art houses, based on Karl’s sketches." Viard says their process begins when Lagerfeld completes one of his famous colored-pencil-and-pastel sketches, which he still does by hand. “I immediately dispatch each sketch to each première d’atelier, according to her skills and capabilities.

"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."

Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard
Karl Lagerfeld and Virginie Viard / Elle Vietnam
Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard
Spring 2019 RTW ; Singapore Tatler; WWD; Spring 2019 Couture



“I started working at Chanel in 1987, where I was soon in charge of embroidery. I loved going to Lesage, and I still find the same pleasure in going there. When Karl took over Chloé, I followed him and worked there for five years. I didn’t really notice a difference, since I was still just working with Karl. My mother and my aunts all wore Chloé dresses. I always liked it. Afterwards, when we left Chloé, I returned to Chanel as coordinator of haute couture. I didn’t start handling ready-to-wear until 2000. Then the team got much bigger…” Viard told the French magazine Crash.

Viard, Karl Lagerfeld's closet collaborator of more than 30 years, is now given the monumental task of ensuring that the legacies of both Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld live on.

AUTUMN/WINTER 2019 COLLECTION

Karl Lagerfeld's last & presented after his death
Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard
Chanel Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear / via Vogue
Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard
Chanel Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear / via Vogue
Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard
Chanel Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear / via Vogue
Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard
Chanel Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear / via Vogue
Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard
Chanel Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear / via Vogue
Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard
Chanel Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear / via Vogue
Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard
Chanel Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear / via Vogue
Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard
Chanel Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear / via Vogue
Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard
Chanel Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear / via Vogue
Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard
Chanel Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear / via Vogue

"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."

―from the documentary 7 Days Out
Design | The Woman Behind Chanel: Virginie Viard
Elle



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Daniela Chelariu, Travel Editor, Paris
Travel Editor, Paris

Dana is a fragile dreamer, they say, arriving in Paris four years ago, for love, and the city has been constantly changing her life since then. Hers is a world of books, (Marguerite Duras, Simone de Beauvoir, Anne Berest), expos, long walks sur les quais de Seine, pink skies, fine wine and peonies.
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