Why is Everyone Talking About Chanel?

Chanel Summer Collection campaign model in a swimming pool

Since the departure of creative director Virginie Viard, Instagram has been buzzing with speculation about her successor. But there might be more reasons why my feed is filled with talk of the double-C house. Let’s explore the possibilities

Chanel Summer Collection campaign model in a swimming pool


By Rosa Smith. Coverv image: Courtesy Chanel

Suddenly, my feed is inundated with posts about Chanel. What’s going on? Everyone, from WWD to The New York Times, is talking about the iconic fashion house. Virginie Viard, the artistic director of Chanel, has left the company. Everyone is in shock. Why? I’m trying to understand the reason.
Chanel doesn’t seem like the kind of house that embraces dramatic stylistic turmoil or rapid changes in creative direction. It has always been stable and confident, and it’s not surprising given its status as the world’s most famous and sought-after fashion brand. Virginie Viard, 62, has spent a large part of her working life at Chanel, roughly 30 years, first as Karl Lagerfeld’s right hand and later as the creative director of the brand following Lagerfeld’s passing, a role she has held for the past five years. However, Virginie and Chanel are now parting ways, probably forever. It has been confirmed that the Autumn/Winter 2024-25 Haute Couture show will take place on June 25, but it’s unclear whether Virginie will make an appearance on the runway at the end of the show.

Speculations on Virginie Viard’s successors at Chanel

Apparently, rumours of Virginie’s departure have been circulating for a while (was I the only one unaware?). Now it’s official. So, what happens next? Instagram is flooded with comments, predictions, and bets on the next creative director. Some are speculating that Hedi Slimane, who has been the creative director of Céline (LVMH group) since 2018, could be the one. The designer was always adored by Karl Lagerfeld, who in 2002 endured a gruelling diet – losing 40 kilos in 13 months – just to fit into the super slim clothes Hedi designed for Dior Homme. Moreover, since April, there have been rumours that Slimane was leaving Céline. Other frequently mentioned names in the predictions include Pierpaolo Piccioli, who recently left Valentino and is currently in limbo, and Sarah Burton, who stepped down from Alexander McQueen in September 2023 after 13 years.

Chanel and its Record Revenue

All we can do now is wait and see what happens. One thing is clear: if there were any tensions between Virginie Viard and Chanel, it certainly wasn’t because of a drop in sales under her artistic direction. Chanel, like Hermès, is one of the few luxury companies that has recently experienced a notable increase in sales. The problem might have been the delivery of somewhat predictable and unexciting collections.
Or perhaps the collections needed just the right styling to enrich and better highlight them, as seen in the Chanel Cruise 2024/2025 show held on May 2 in Marseille. Under Virginie Viard’s creative leadership, Chanel has seen a surge in revenue. As reported by NSS, citing a Bloomberg report, the sales of the French double-C house have soared, bucking the trend compared to many luxury companies that have shown negative signs in recent months, leading to spectacular profits for its owners, the Wertheimer family.

“Over the past three years, Alain and Gérard Wertheimer, grandsons of one of Coco Chanel’s original visionary partners, have amassed an astonishing $12 billion in dividends from the iconic fashion house.” According to Il Sole 24 Ore, the luxury company ended 2022 with record revenues of $17.22 billion, an increase of 10.1%. A historic high. Now, the brand faces a new challenge: maintaining the creative direction of the iconic brand created by the ingenious and non-conformist Gabrielle Chanel, known as Coco, who liberated women’s clothing from constraints and invented the little black dress, the bob haircut, and the legendary No.5 perfume in 1926.

House that Believes in Female Empowerment

Chanel is considered an outsider brand for various reasons, including the fact that it is currently one of the very few fashion companies led by a woman. Leena Nair, the youngest CEO in the group’s history and also the only woman, was born in 1969 in India. She initially studied Electrical Engineering before transitioning to a career in fashion and becoming the head of human resources at Unilever. She has been the number one at the company since the end of 2021. Teamed up with Virginie Viard, one of the very few women in the creative direction of a luxury Maison, they form a truly special all-female power duo. We’ll wait and see what happens next. As Coco famously said in one of her unforgettable mantras: “To be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

Fields of Study
Fashion Business

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