Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld with Studio Director at Chanel Virgine Viard at the Embroidery workshop Lesage as he visits ‘Les Ateliers d’Art’ belonging to ‘La Maison Chanel’ on February 7, 2014 in Pantin, France. Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images

It was “with deep sadness” the House of Chanel announced the passing of the prolific, iconic Karl Lagerfeld, the brand’s creative director since 1983. While tributes flow like a Lagerfeld hemline – some short and sweet like his little black dress, others nostalgic for past collections – Chanel announced Lagerfeld’s longtime right-hand woman 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 CEO] Alain Wertheimer with the creative work for the collections, so that the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld can live on,” a statement by the brand read.

Virginie Viard acknowledges the crowd during the Chanel Haute Couture Spring Summer 2019 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 22, 2019 in Paris, France. Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage

In late January, Lagerfeld was unusually absent from Chanel’s Spring 2019 Haute Couture show in Paris, the brand citing he was “tired”. He sent Viard down the runway to bow at the end of the show, a sort of passing of the baton if you will, remarked only in hindsight. It was Lagerfeld’s handover and Chanel’s quiet way of paving the way for Viard. In fact, the woman who was next to Lagerfeld every day at his studio at the Rue Cambon was making runway appearances with him for a couple of seasons beginning with the Cruise 2019 show in May.

Karl Lagerfeld and Virginie Viard walks the runway after the Chanel show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2019 on October 2, 2018 in Paris, France. Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage

Meanwhile, Fendi is preparing to present Lagerfeld’s last collection for the brand in Milan on Thursday.

“Fendi is mourning the passing of Karl Lagerfeld, who has marked the history of the brand with his genius for more than 50 years. In this spirit, Fendi intends to take its time to pay him the homage he deserves and will communicate on the succession later,” the brand said.

Chanel paid tribute to Lagerfeld on their website.

“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,’” the statement read.

Hedi Slimane and Phoebe Philo were often cited as potential successors.

Floral tributes are beginning to gather in Paris.

Flowers are laid in tribute to late German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld outside the French fashion house Chanel, in Paris, on February 19, 2019. – German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has died at the age of 85, it was announced on February 19, 2019. Photography GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images
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