Image taken by Olivier Zahm, Purple Magazine
Backstage with Karl Lagerfeld’s right-hand woman
Standing tall in frame, Virginie Viard wears her long dark hair with a thick fringe. The romantic-looking lady has been working with Karl Lagerfeld since 1987.
“It sounds ages ago but since nothing is ever routine with Karl – he is so spontaneous and in the moment – I sometimes forget what we did six months ago.” Virginie Viard
Getting the first glimpse of Lagerfeld’s sketches every season, Viard then distributes them to ateliers.
“She’s more than a right hand, if I lost her, I’d be paralysed.” Karl Lagerfeld
Born in Dijon, a city in eastern France, in a family in the silk business, Viard, however, did not desire to be working in the fashion industry. She says:
“Of course, I looked at the magazines but I was much more taken by Nouvelle Vague films and stylish actresses like Anna Karina and Gena Rowlands.”
Nature course has led her to study at Le Cours Georges, a fashion school based in Lyon, to get her in shape for film and theatrical costume. Working with Dominique Borg on the film Camille Claudel, Viard had a chance meeting with Chanel.
She then continues to work with Madame Tribouillard (legendary glove-maker) and Maison Michel (renowned hat-makers). It is here where her acute organizational skills caught Lagerfeld’s eye and she is now in charge of the look of eight Chanel collections – six of which entail major fashion shows.
She is the heart of Chanel, connecting with Lagerfeld, ateliers, artisans and models. When choosing models, she acquiesces:
“I have a weakness for the English girls like Stella Tennant. In general, they remain polite, grounded and wear clothes really well.”
Taken from AnOther Magazine, issue 22, p. 186.