Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard exits after five years

In a shift that reverberates through the world of high fashion, luxury conglomerate Chanel confirmed on Wednesday that its creative director, Virginie Viard, will be leaving the company

The departure comes after a five-year tenure in which Virginie Viard had sought to renew the brand’s codes while preserving its creative heritage, according to a statement from Chanel.

Viard, a longtime deputy to the late Karl Lagerfeld, took the reins of the French fashion house in 2019 following Lagerfeld’s death. Her stewardship had overseen a period of strong growth in Chanel’s ready-to-wear division, with sales surging two-and-a-half times since 2018, the company’s chief executive, Leena Nair, said last month.

Yet the announcement of Viard’s departure, which did not name a successor, underscores the challenges facing luxury brands as they navigate an uneven global economy and shifting consumer preferences.

Chanel, known for its tweed suits, quilted handbags and iconic No. 5 perfume, is the world’s second-largest luxury label after LVMH’s Louis Vuitton. The French brand, which is privately owned by the billionaire Wertheimer brothers, has sought to expand its footprint, particularly in mainland China, even as some of its rivals have faced headwinds in that market.

The departure of Viard, whose designs were praised by Nair as “very successfully” catering to women, comes as the luxury industry broadly confronts new pressures, from supply chain disruptions to the recessionary clouds gathering over the global economy.

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