Veteran image director Éric Pfrunder has retired from Chanel after nearly four decades in its employ. After the death of Karl Lagerfeld, Pfrunder was entrusted by the Wertheimer brothers who own the French megabrand to lead its creative side along with artistic director of fashion collections Virginie Viard.
The news, first reported by Fashion Network, was confirmed by Chanel, which in a statement called Pfrunder “a highly active and influential contributor to the trio he formed with Karl Lagerfeld and Virginie Viard.”
Marion Destenay Falempin succeeded Pfrunder in the role of fashion image director in September, the company said.
Pfrunder, who joined Chanel the same year as Lagerfeld in 1983, was critical to the visual direction of the brand. He oversaw everything from its advertising to its red carpet strategy. He was frequently described as Lagerfeld’s right-hand man, encouraging the designer to take up photography in 1987, according to an interview with Pfrunder in French magazine Les Hardis. Pfrunder also worked with Lagerfeld on shoots for Fendi.
After Lagerfeld’s death, Chanel chief executive officer Alain Wertheimer announced Pfrunder would assume the position of artistic director of fashion image, charged with leading the brand forward with Viard. “Alain Wertheimer confirms his confidence in the team that worked with Karl Lagerfeld for over 30 years,” read a statement from the house issued in April 2019.
In January, Pfrunder joined the advisory board of blockchain company Lukso. Pfrunder inherited Lagerfeld’s photographic archive after his death, according to Vogue Business, and registered the body of work on Lukso.
The pandemic disrupted Chanel’s business more than other leading luxury megabrands: revenue fell by 18 percent in 2020 to $10.1 billion, according to the company, as operating profit fell by 41 percent to $2 billion. Sales have since returned to growth compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, chief financial officer Philippe Blondiaux told BoF in June.