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Virginie Viard

Artistic Director of Fashion Collections, Chanel

Starting as an intern in 1987, the designer now oversees the house’s artistic direction as the chosen successor of Karl Lagerfeld, who referred to her as ‘my right arm and my left arm.’


Virginie Viard started at Chanel as an intern in 1987, where she remained throughout her career aside from a brief stint at Chloé. She was known as Karl Lagerfeld ’s right-hand woman — he referred to Viard as “my right arm and my left arm” — until his death in February 2019. Viard was named Lagerfeld’s successor at Chanel and debuted her first collection for the Parisian fashion house in March 2019.

Viard was born in 1962 and grew up in Lyon, France. Her introduction to the fashion industry began with her grandparents, who were silk manufacturers. Viard studied Theatre Design at the Cours Georges and assisted costume designer Dominique Borg, who produced costumes for Camille Claudel. Viard went on to work with French actress Isabelle Adjani and directors Bruno Nuytten, and she continued her involvement in costume design while working at Chloé, creating the costumes for the films “Three Colors: Blue” (1993) and “Three Colors: White” (1994).

Viard started at Chanel as an intern for haute couture embroidery in 1987 upon Lagerfeld’s suggestion, joining four years after he became creative director of the luxury label. She went with Lagerfeld to Chloé in 1992 before returning to Chanel in the haute couture department five years later. In 2000, Viard moved to ready-to-wear.

In the season leading up to Lagerfeld’s death, Viard would join the late designer as he took his bow. She took the final bow in Lagerfeld’s place at the couture show in January 2019 when he was unable to attend due to exhaustion.

The director of fashion creation studio, Viard is also the artistic director of fashion collections, including haute couture, ready-to-wear and accessories. It is the first time a female designer is at the helm of the luxury house since its founder, Gabrielle Chanel.




1992 - 1997




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What is The BoF 500?

The people shaping the global fashion industry, curated by the editors of The Business of Fashion, based on nominations and on-the-ground intelligence from around the world.