Chanel: The Virginie Viard Era

BY Jade Chilton / Jan 18 2020 / 16:32 PM

In her first year as Chanel’s Artistic Director, Virginie Viard has well and truly stepped up to the plate, leading the French fashion house into a transformative new chapter...

Chanel: The Virginie Viard Era
Oliver Sailant

Many would say Virginie Viard, Chanel’s Artistic Director, had extraordinary boots to fill as she became Karl Lagerfeld’s successor after his passing in February last year. Only a year on from when Viard took the helm, we are already witness to the magic that the former right-hand woman of the late ‘King’ of fashion has cast upon the maison, a sense of wonder emanating from her debut Metier d’Art 2019-20 Chanel collection shown in Paris this past December.

As the first woman to run the house since Coco Chanel herself, Virginie avoided the well-trodden path of flying the press pack to faraway lands, and instead stripped things back to go to the brand's very core, inviting her guests in to the private world of Chez Mademoiselle Coco. In a spectacular manner, she blew up the inimitable Rue Cambon apartment to fashion-show proportions with the help of famed director and longtime friend of the house, Sofia Coppola.

Virginie was applauded for infusing couture-level standards into the ready-to-wear collection, gently casting aside her former boss’s penchant for structure and injecting softer silhouettes in a colour palette of mainly black and white, concluding with an optimistic blast of sunset orange and hot pink. She did this while weaving elements evocative of the brand and the legendary apartment, such as ropes of pearls draped around models’ midriffs and chic joggers embroidered with gilded ‘good luck’ sheaves of wheat and, of course, lashings of gold.

If the show is an indication of what is to come for the fashion juggernaut, then we can be assured that Karl’s baby is in very safe hands. Although we can all unanimously agree nobody who will ever replace the 'King', there is no doubt that Virginie is on the way to earning her own royal status as the newest creative leader at the French fashion house.

From Harper's Bazaar Arabia's January 2020 Issue

Images: Oliver Sailant