Chanel pays tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, names Virginie Viard as successor

PARIS – Paying tribute to “a prolific creative mind with endless imagination,” the house of Chanel on Tuesday confirmed “with deep sadness” the passing of its longtime creative director Karl Lagerfeld and said his longtime right-hand woman Virginie Viard would succeed him.

“Virginie Viard, director of Chanel’s fashion creation studio and Karl Lagerfeld’s closest collaborator for more than 30 years, has been entrusted by [Chanel chief executive officer] Alain Wertheimer with the creative work for the collections, so that the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld can live on,” the house said.

Lagerfeld boasted that his contract with Chanel was one page long, emblematic of his close ties to the owners of the privately held firm. Lagerfeld claimed to never schedule meetings with the Wertheimers, or even talk that much about business, although the brothers Alain and Gerard were often at his elbow in his studio at the Rue Cambon, or chatting with him backstage before a fashion show.

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Stars react to Karl Lagerfeld's death
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Stars react to Karl Lagerfeld's death
Nothing feels right today..at a loss for words and so heartbroken by the loss of Karl. His humor, wit , love and passion for fashion will live on forever. Thank you for the inspiration that you gave to this world and for all of the hearts that you touched in the process. Every time I saw you it felt like the first time & I will miss your hugs so much. I feel so lucky to have been in your presence. Sending my love to the Lagerfeld family and to all closest to him. I am so sorry. We all love you so much .💔 Rest In Peace KL❤️
We lost a true legend!!!! You were such an inspiration to the world! You shot my first fashion shoot and I was so nervous to work with such an icon! The world is so much chicer because you existed! I am beyond honored to have met you and had the opportunity to work with you. You are so loved and will be so missed 💔
Karl Lagerfeld didn’t breath oxygen. He breathed fashion. He had both an artistic and a business eye that defined w… https://t.co/C818anGnEf
Today the world lost a creative genius. We will miss you Karl! #RIPKarlLagerfeld https://t.co/8MMcWqDphE
Karl your genius touched the lives of so many, especially Gianni and I. We will never forget your incredible talent and endless inspiration. We were always learning from you.
So incredibly sad to hear this. Karl was a genius and always so kind and generous to me both personally and professionally. RIP 💔x vb
“Evolution is the secret for the next step” - rest in peace, Karl Lagerfeld ❤
My heart is broken. Thank you for everything x
Karl, genius provocateur has gone quietly... Such a perceptive witness of our times , his intelligence, talent and enormous knowledge will be missed...
I got to interview Karl when I was the editor of @luckymagazine and, since it was around April Fool’s Day, we mocked up a cover of the issue with his cat on the cover. He was so tickled by it that he asked to keep it. I didn’t know him well but in my fleeting encounters with him, he had a wicked wit (he had very strong opinions about Athleisure) and a true fashion legend. Rest In Peace, thank you for inspiring us
"Today the world lost a giant among men." Anna Wintour remembers Chanel’s creative director and her longtime friend… https://t.co/zlfpA5mrZk
Rest in peace, Karl. I remember being so scared to interview you and yet you were in fact incredibly witty and generous. Thank you for inviting me to some of the most glamorous experiences of my life, it was an honour to know you. Oh yeah and thanks for the dry shampoo tip, will always think of you as I powder my wig. ❤️
this image alone was enough to make my generation dream...
Beyond devastated to hear that my darling friend and legendary genius, Karl Lagerfeld, has passed away. Karl was a true artist and visionary, and was one of the most magical, inspiring, mesmeric beings to know and work with. His awe-inspiring presence and legacy in fashion and life will be eternal. I will miss you, my darling friend, and treasure the amazing, joyful and fun memories we made together. 💫💫💫💫💫💫💫💫💫💫💫
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💔 Karl... Great love of my life. 💔@karllagerfeld @chanelofficial 💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔
The end of an era! RIP Karl Lagerfeld #KarlLagerfeld https://t.co/gU6emIyL28
You made me feel like a princess. I never quite understood what you saw in me but I am forever grateful for the sup… https://t.co/pW24Hwinuw
Rest in peace Karl Lagerfeld. A true fashion maestro and visionary who inspired many. The impact he made and the le… https://t.co/5jpxxrOU6F
My first Instagram post taken 8yrs ago in Karl’s library / studio. I spent so many nights here. Karl always liked t… https://t.co/AZq0EXAhqN
Rest in love ❤️❤️❤️🌥 #karllagerfeld #chanel
It was such a thrill and a pleasure to have met you, to have worked with you, and to have experienced the amazing t… https://t.co/esHZQdi10w
You bought so much beauty, style and grace to this world. Karl, you will forever be a true legend, an icon, an insp… https://t.co/1mYgYYrGf6
Dear Karl, thank you for all the sparkles .... thank you bringing beauty and lightness in our world, so much color in the darkness, so much wit in our dull days. I think you wouldn’t have wished for too many tears or too many flowers but you will be missed. The whole world and I will miss you. RIP 🙏 Cher Karl, merci pour toutes ces étincelles ✨.... merci d’avoir apporté tant de beauté et de légèreté dans ce monde si lourd, tant de couleurs dans cette grisaille, tant d’esprit dans cette époque éteinte. Je crois que vous n’auriez pas aimé trop de larmes, trop de fleurs ou de couronnes mais vous allez beaucoup manquer. À moi comme au monde entier.
Karl.....I cannot tell you how much you meant to me and how much I will miss you ♥️ I will never forget your kindness towards me, your laughs, your imagination ♥️ I came to France to see you this week and introduce you to my daughter...I’m heartbroken I was too late ♥️ Rest In Peace, I adore you ♥️
Rest in peace 🖤
Karl was my magic dust, he transformed me from a shy German girl into a supermodel. He taught me about fashion, style and survival in the fashion business. What Warhol was to art, he was to fashion; he is irreplaceable. He is the only person who could make black and white colourful! I will be eternally grateful to him.
I don’t even recall him knowing my name, but man did I know his. We have lost a true genius in the fashion world. H… https://t.co/r9wAhKGkGF
Thank you for everything Karl x https://t.co/UVY28s2K0b
The only thing more inspiring than #karllagerfeld’s prolific creative genius was his kind heart, generosity and irreverent spirit! His mark on the fashion industry will live on forever, his loss resonates deeply with all who had the privilege to work with him ❤️
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He also forged close ties with Paris-based managers Francoise Montenay, who retired from an operational role in 2007, and Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel fashion. Lagerfeld said four people ran Chanel’s giant fashion franchise: himself, Pavlovsky, Viard and image director Eric Pfrunder.

“We don’t talk to marketing people,” he said in 2009. “We do what our inner voices tell us. We’re kind of the Joan-of-Arcs of the fashion business.”

To be sure, Lagerfeld relished that Chanel was a private company. “At a public company, are you going to call the shareholders? Who are the shareholders? For me, shareholders are a little too abstract,” Lagerfeld said in 1999. “Fashion is not abstract.”

Lagerfeld’s strong suit was his ability to continually re-interpret the Chanel style, while keeping the brand’s image at the highest level. “Chanel is a style and a standard,” he would say. Lagerfeld was able to bend the look to the style of Goths, surfers, hippies, robots — you name it — and to continue to attract young women to a label that once had a bourgeois, slightly older, image.

The house paid tribute to his talent.

“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,’” it said in a statement.

The announcement of Viard’s appointment lays to rest years of speculation over Lagerfeld’s legacy at the house, where he had a lifetime contract. In 2017, Chanel took the extraordinary step of squelching ongoing speculation that it was plotting a move into men’s wear with Hedi Slimane.

“The house of Chanel has no projects with Hedi Slimane,” the company said in a statement issued exclusively to WWD.

22 PHOTOS
Karl Lagerfeld's most iconic quotes
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Karl Lagerfeld's most iconic quotes

'I'm a kind of fashion nymphomaniac who never gets an orgasm." (1984)

Pictured: Karl Lagerfeld poses with models on July 23, 1984 at the end of the autumn-winter 1984/1985 Haute Couture collection in Paris.

(Photo: PIERRE GUILLAUD/AFP/Getty Images)

“To say that there is no fashion anymore is ridiculous. The fashion of no-fashion is still fashion. And fashion is a train that waits for nobody. Get on it, or it’s gone.” (1991)

Pictured: Karl Lagerfeld, flanked with models, acknowledges the public after the Chanel autumn-winter 1984/1985 ready-to-wear collection show on March 27, 1984 in Paris.

(Photo: PIERRE GUILLAUD/AFP/Getty Images) 

“When I was four, I asked my mother for a valet for my birthday. I wanted my clothes prepared so I could wear anything I wanted at any time of the day. I was a clothes freak. And I was mad for dressing differently at least four times a day.” (“WWD Profiles”, 1999).

Pictured: Karl Lagerfeld acknowledges the public after the Chanel autumn-winter 1984/1985 ready-to-wear collection show on March 27, 1984 in Paris. At left, French model Ines de la Fressange .

(Photo: PIERRE GUILLAUD/AFP/Getty Images)

“When people talk about the good old days, I say to people, 'It's not the days that are old, it's you that's old.' I hate the good old days. What is important is that today is good."

Pictured: Karl Lagerfeld and his models (Jerry Hall lying down) at the 1984-1985 Fall/Winter Chanel collection in Paris .

(Photo: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images)

“There was once a designer in Paris who said, ‘My dresses are only for intelligent women.’ She went out of business, so maybe there were only idiots. In fact, it was not clever for her to say that. I design for the people who like. There is no age group because age group is a racism in a way, too.” (“Made in Manhattan”, 2005)

Pictured: Vogue Editor Anna Wintour and designer Karl Lagerfeld attend Paris Haute Couture Fashion Show and Cocktail Party on September 5, 1990 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

(Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

"Life is not a beauty contest, some [ugly people] are great. What I hate is nasty, ugly people. The worst is ugly short men. Women can be short, but for men it is impossible. It is something that they will not forgive in life—they are mean and they want to kill you." (Vogue)

Pictured: Caroline de Monaco, Karl Lagerfeld et Claudia Schiffer lors du défilé Chanel, collection haute-couture autome/hiver 90, Paris le 24 juillet 1990, France.

(Photo: ARNAL/PICOT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

"I think I am a much more superficial person than you imagine." (The Independent, 2011)

Pictured: Channel Mega Show At Yebisu Garden Place In Tokyo, Japan On May 12, 2000 - Devon Aoki (right) and Karl Lagerfeld.

(Photo: Kurita KAKU/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

"'Improvise. Become more creative. Not because you have to, but because you want to. Evolution is the secret for the next step." (Harper's Bazaar, 2009)

Pictured: Designer Karl Lagerfeld accompanied by the bride waves 11 July 2000 after Chanel's Fall Winter Haute Couture 2000-2001 collection in Paris.

(Photo: PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images)

"I’m a designer, I do photos, I do books, I’m a publisher, but I don’t have the self-proclaimed label “artist.” I hate that. Very pretentious. If other people say it, it’s very flattering, but if you start to say it yourself, you better forget about it." (New York Times, 2015)

Pictured: Fall Winter 2001/2001 'Haute Couture' : Chanel Collection On November 7Th, 2000 In Paris, France. Karl Lagerfeld

(Photo: William STEVENS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

"I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that. It is like a mask. And for me the Carnival of Venice lasts all year long." ("The World According to Karl"2013.)

Pictured: Karl Lagerfeld attends Chanel Paris to New York Runway Show and Private Cocktail Reception Hosted By Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel on December 8, 2005 in New York City.

(Photo: Erik T. Kaiser/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

"Why should I stop working? If I do, I'll die and it'll all be finished. I'm lucky to work in the most perfect of conditions. I can do what I want in all kinds of areas. The expenses are not expenses. I would be stupid to stop that. Work is making a living out of being bored."

Pictured: Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel attends the Chanel fashion show at the Peninsula Shanghai Hotel on December 3, 2009 in Shanghai, China.

(Photo: VCG via Getty Images)

"My professional life is about forgetting. I make big efforts to forget. Not because I wasn’t happy but because I have to find something else. I cannot stop at what I did." (The Telegraph, 2016)

Pictured: Karl Lagerfeld with models on the runway at his ready-to-wear Spring/Summer 2010 collection, during Paris Fashion Week

(Photo: Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images)

"What I do Coco would have hated. The label has an image and it's up to me to update it. I do what she never did. I had to find my mark. I had to go from what Chanel was to what it should be, could be, what it had been to something else." ("The World According to Karl", 2013)

Pictured: Karl Lagerfeld (R) is pictured during the Chanel Metiers d'Art Pre-Fall collection show, entitled 'Paris-Bombay' on December 6, 2011 in Paris. Since 2003, every year, Chanel launches a parallel collection to their Pret-a-porter and Haute Coutute collections: the annual Metiers d'Art collection which is this year inspired to India, with its huge artistic and manufacturing inheritance, its jewels, its colors and its precious fabrics.

(Photo: FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

“Is there something healthier than competition? If not, you fall asleep and think success, and what you did, is granted. Nothing is granted in fashion, and this is what I love about fashion.” (WWD CEO Summit Leadership, 2013)

Pictured: Karl Lagerfeld, Fashion Designer, Photographer, Publisher, Designer and Film Director speaks at LeWeb Paris 2011 at Le 104 on December 7, 2011 in Paris, France. Since beginning in 2008, LeWeb Paris 2011 is the largest technology conference in Europe where Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and the tech world gather while often announcing new products.

(Photo: Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images)

"I'm rather pro-prostitution. I admire people who do it. It can't be much fun. Thank goodness for it. People need relief or they become murderers." (Vogue)

Pictured: Karl Lagerfeld arrives at amfAR's Cinema Against AIDS Gala 2011 at Hotel Du Cap at Hotel Du Cap on May 24, 2012 in Antibes, France.

(Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage)

"If you throw money out of the window throw it out with joy. Don’t say: 'one shouldn’t do that'—that is bourgeois."

Pictured: Fashion Designer Karl Lagerfeld and pregnant model walk the runway front of (L-R) Suzy Menkes, Carine Roitfeld, Grace Coddington, Mario Testino, Anna Wintour, Baz Luhrmann, his wife Catherine Martin, Korean K-Pop singer CL, guest and Jung Ryeo-won at the end of the Chanel show as part of Paris Fashion Week - Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015. Held at Grand Palais on July 8, 2014 in Paris, France.

(Photo: Rindoff/Dufour/French Select/Getty Images)

"There are not too many people with an opinion I care for." (New York Times, 2015)

Pictured: Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld attends the Chanel show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015 on September 30, 2014 in Paris, France.

(Photo: Rindoff/Dufour/French Select/Getty Images)

"Kate Middleton has a nice silhouette and she is the right girl for that boy. I like that kind of woman, I like romantic beauties. On the other hand, her sister struggles. I don't like the sister's face. She should only show her back." (HuffPost)

Pictured: Karl Lagerfeld, winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award, attends the British Fashion Awards in partnership with Swarovski at the London Coliseum on November 23, 2015 in London, England.

(Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

"I don’t do selfies. But other people do, and they all want to do selfies with me. No, no, no. Thank God, Sébastien, my assistant, he’s mean to the people in the street, mean and rude. I’m a nice person." (New York Times, 2015)

Pictured: Karl Lagerfeld arrives to the 'Volez, Voguez, Voyagez - Louis Vuitton' Exhibition Opening at Le Grand Palais on December 3, 2015 in Paris, France.

(Photo: Rindoff/Le Segretain/Getty Images for Louis Vuitton)

"Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants." ("The World According to Karl", 2013)

Pictured: Karl Lagerfeld walks the runway at the end of the 12th Chanel Metiers dArt show 'Paris-Rome', an annual event to honor craftsmanship that artisan partners bring to the houses collections, on December 1, 2015 at the Cinecitta studios in Rome.

(Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

“When I was a child, my mother always told me that you could wake up in the middle of the night and be deathly sick, so you always have to be impeccable. I laugh about it now, but I think everyone should go to bed like they have a date at the door." (Vogue)

Pictured: Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and Hudson Kroenig (godson of Karl Lagerfeld) during the Chanel 'Trombinoscope' collection Metiers d'Art 2017/18 show at Elbphilharmonie on December 6, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany.

(Photo: Gisela Schober/Getty Images)

"I've always known that I was made to live this way, that I would be this sort of legend." ("The World According to Karl", 2013)

German designer Karl Lagerfeld (C) walks the runway during the Chanel Metiers D'Art 2018/19 Show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on December 4, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)

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Throughout Slimane’s career, rumors have persisted that the designer could wind up at Chanel, given his long and close friendship with Lagerfeld and Lagerfeld’s penchant for Slimane’s rock ‘n’ roll-tinged designs.

In 2000 and 2001, Lagerfeld famously shed nearly 90 pounds after a low-fat regime that he followed primarily to be able to shimmy into the pencil-thin suits Slimane was designing for Dior Homme. “It’s all about the clothes,” Lagerfeld told WWD at the time.

Chanel’s longtime couturier maintained a close rapport with Slimane, also an accomplished photographer like him.

Lagerfeld commissioned Slimane to shoot his portrait for the cover of the holiday issue of French Vogue that he guest-edited. And while he remained loyal to Dior Homme, Lagerfeld continued to wear jackets Slimane created expressly for him with his name on the label.

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