Profile: Virginie Viard, Karl Lagerfeld’s right-hand woman

 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.

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