Last week, Virginie Viard debuted her first collection for Chanel as Artistic Director for Cruise 2020 at the Grand Palais in Paris. It was also the first collection without Karl Lagerfeld since Fall Couture 1983. While it may have been her first at the helm of creative, Viard has long been an integral part of Chanel. She began her thirty-year affair with the iconic French luxury house in 1987 as an haute couture embroidery intern, and would later be appointed to studio director just 10 years later. Having spent the larger part of her career as a relatively anonymous aid behind Lagerfeld’s creative vision, her contributions have gone mostly unknown. Loic Prigent, the filmmaker responsible for capturing the work of the atelier before each show, once called Lagerfeld the “locomotive” of the house and Viard the “rails;” translating his abstract sketches into a language of design that was affable and universally understood. She was, in many ways, his voice of reason. Lagerfeld himself considered her to be “both his right and left hand.”

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