Overnight the fashion world was shaken by the news that Chanel‘s iconic Creative Director, Karl Lagerfeld, had passed away.

Karl headed up the French house for 36 years – a bloody decent stint no matter what way you look at it.

As condolences for the fashion icon start pouring in, the style industry can’t help asking the important question, ‘who will succeed Karl?’.

Chanel released an official statement on Instagram overnight confirming the reports about the icon’s passing before revealing that the director’s right-hand woman, Virginie Viard, will take the helm at the esteemed house.

Virginie will be the brand’s first female Creative Director since its founder, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel.

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It is with deep sadness that the House of CHANEL announces the passing of Karl Lagerfeld, the Creative Director for the CHANEL Fashion House since 1983. An extraordinary creative individual, Karl Lagerfeld reinvented the brand’s codes created by Gabrielle Chanel: the CHANEL jacket and suit, the little black dress, the precious tweeds, the two-tone shoes, the quilted handbags, the pearls and costume jewelry. Regarding Gabrielle Chanel, he said, “My job is not to do what she did, but what she would have done. The good thing about Chanel is it is an idea you can adapt to many things.” A prolific creative mind with endless imagination, Karl Lagerfeld explored many artistic horizons, including photography and short films. The House of CHANEL benefited from his talent for all the branding campaigns related to Fashion since 1987. Finally, one cannot refer to Karl Lagerfeld without mentioning his innate sense of repartee and self-mockery. Alain Wertheimer, CEO of CHANEL, said: “Thanks to his creative genius, generosity and exceptional intuition, Karl Lagerfeld was ahead of his time, which widely contributed to the House of CHANEL’s success throughout the world. Today, not only have I lost a friend, but we have all lost an extraordinary creative mind to whom I gave carte blanche in the early 1980s to reinvent the brand.” Bruno Pavlovsky, President of Fashion at CHANEL, said: “Fashion show after fashion show, collection after collection, Karl Lagerfeld left his mark on the legend of Gabrielle Chanel and the history of the House of CHANEL. He steadfastly promoted the talent and expertise of CHANEL’s ateliers and Métiers d’Art, allowing this exceptional know-how to shine throughout the world. The greatest tribute we can pay today is to continue to follow the path he traced by – to quote Karl – ‘continuing to embrace the present and invent the future’.” Virginie Viard, Director of CHANEL’s Fashion Creation Studio and Karl Lagerfeld’s closest collaborator for more than 30 years, has been entrusted by Alain Wertheimer with the creative work for the collections, so that the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld can live on.

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“It is with deep sadness that the House of CHANEL announces the passing of Karl Lagerfeld, the Creative Director for the CHANEL Fashion House since 1983.

“An extraordinary creative individual, Karl Lagerfeld reinvented the brand’s codes created by Gabrielle Chanel: the CHANEL jacket and suit, the little black dress, the precious tweeds, the two-tone shoes, the quilted handbags, the pearls and costume jewelry. Regarding Gabrielle Chanel, he said, My job is not to do what she did, but what she would have done. The good thing about Chanel is it is an idea you can adapt to many things…’

“Alain Wertheimer, CEO of CHANEL, said: ‘Thanks to his creative genius, generosity and exceptional intuition, Karl Lagerfeld was ahead of his time, which widely contributed to the House of CHANEL’s success throughout the world. Today, not only have I lost a friend, but we have all lost an extraordinary creative mind to whom I gave carte blanche in the early 1980s to reinvent the brand…’

“Bruno Pavlovsky, President of Fashion at CHANEL, said: ‘The greatest tribute we can pay today is to continue to follow the path he traced by – to quote Karl – ‘continuing to embrace the present and invent the future’.’

“Virginie Viard, Director of CHANEL’s Fashion Creation Studio and Karl Lagerfeld’s closest collaborator for more than 30 years, has been entrusted by Alain Wertheimer with the creative work for the collections, so that the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld can live on.”

Not much is known about Virginie, who joined the house back in 1987 (just four years after Karl) as the accomplished individual has kept a relatively low profile over the years with a private Instagram account and just 2,583 followers.

Virginie Viard
Source: Instagram

Virginie started her time as an intern at Chanel before being quickly promoted to the head of embroidery before taking up the role of fashion studio director.

In 1992, Virginie briefly followed Karl to Chloé, where Karl was designing as part of a side-hustle, only to return to Chanel five years later.

Virginie joins the liked of Dior‘s Maria Grazia Chiuri as the second female Creative Director for two of the world’s biggest haute couture houses – watch this space.

Image: Getty Images / [Bertrand Rindoff Petroff]