Chanel's Artistic Director of the Fashion Collections, Virginie Viard, acknowledges applause after presenting creations from her collection during the Women's Haute-Couture Spring/Summer 2024 Fashion Week in Paris on January 23, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

Chanel artistic director Virginie Viard is leaving the label, the luxury brand said on Thursday, kicking off a flurry of speculation over who will replace her in one of the fashion industry's highest profile positions.

"A new chapter is opening for Chanel Mode," Chanel said in a statement, confirming the change, which was first reported on fashion news website Business of Fashion.

The privately-owned label, known for tweed suits, quilted handbags and No. 5 perfume, said a "new creative organization" would be announced in due course and thanked Viard for her "rich collaboration of five years".

Viard, 62, worked at Chanel for nearly thirty years, alongside Karl Lagerfeld, whose role she took over in 2019 following his death.

Her departure comes as the industry adjusts to slower growth and several other labels, including Kering-owned Gucci, seek new creative direction to reignite sales.

The post-COVID pandemic boom, fuelled by pent-up demand for fashion, has tapered off as shoppers spend less due to the rising cost of living.

Chanel teams will ensure the "continuity" of collections in the interim period, and the brand will host its fall-winter haute couture show 2024/2025 on June 25 in Paris, it said.

Chanel Chief Executive Leena Nair had brushed off talk of a designer change last month, noting that Viard had overseen strong growth in ready-to-wear fashion sales, which have surged two-and-a-half-times since 2018.

The world's second-largest label after LVMH-owned Louis Vuitton, Chanel is owned by French billionaire brothers Alain Wertheimer and Gerard Wertheimer.