China reacts to Virginie Viard leaving Chanel

    After nearly 30 years, Chanel’s Virginie Viard is departing from the company.
    Image: Getty Images
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Macro

    Chinese social media was abuzz after news broke that artistic director Virginie Viard is leaving Chanel after nearly 30 years with the brand. Chanel confirmed her departure to the media, stating that Viard had successfully renewed the brand’s codes while honoring its creative heritage.

    Some netizens shared their critical takes on Viard’s tenure at the storied French fashion house. “Hasn’t she always been criticized?” wrote @KunKun on Xiaohongshu. “Sales under Viard at Chanel don’t seem good. When she was [Karl Lagerfeld’s] deputy, she was capable enough. But I feel she is still not living up to the responsibility [of her current role].”

    “Her designs are simple… There is no innovation. Some items are really interesting, but hard to match with other clothing,” wrote another netizen on the same post.

    As we have reported, the release of Chanel’s 2024/2025 Cruise collection was met with mixed reception, along with the brand’s latest round of price hikes.

    A look from Chanel’s 2024 Cruise collection. Image: Chanel
    A look from Chanel’s 2024 Cruise collection. Image: Chanel

    Audiences and fashion critics questioned whether Chanel was going through an identity crisis as a result of this dual focus. Some argued that the company needs to innovate more and pick up its game, while others felt the brand was losing its character by doing things like combining a hoodie with a traditional Chanel suit.

    In China, Viard’s latest Cruise Collection designs received harsh commentary from some.

    “Her clothes and jewelry are just ugly. All hearts and bows, turning a fashion benchmark into something from Taobao,” wrote @Kawayidiesinie. “The only reason the bags are tolerable is that they are old models with added chains, so they can't go too wrong.”

    Viard’s Spring 2024 Haute Couture collection is inspired by ballet and dance. Image: Chanel
    Viard’s Spring 2024 Haute Couture collection is inspired by ballet and dance. Image: Chanel

    “Luxury has been returning to more aesthetically-pleasing styles for high-net-worth individuals in recent years,” wrote @Lee on Xiaohongshu. “Chanel is also becoming less [affordable for the] middle-class. Her designs are cheap-looking compared to what you see at Galeries Lafayette.”

    Others stated that new designers will have little impact given the legacy of Chanel. “To be honest, Chanel’s reputation and style are already established… Whether it changes designers or not, there will always be a large number of people who buy it,” wrote @cheerfulsunrise.

    “Chanel’s recent performance slump is really related to the broader environment and random price increases,” replied @Ken. “So why always blame the designer?”

    Appointed in 2019 following Karl Lagerfeld’s passing, Viard will conclude her tenure with the presentation of the haute couture Fall/Winter 2024/25 collection on June 25 at the Opéra Garnier in Paris. Chanel expressed gratitude for her remarkable contributions and announced that a new creative organization will be revealed soon.

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