On my first day at Puck, a juicy tip landed in my inbox from a longtime fashion executive whom I’ve known for more than a decade. “But what about all the talk or is it confirmed, of Jonathan Anderson going to Louis Vuitton to replace Nicolas [Ghesquière] who goes to Chanel… to take over from Virginie [Viard]…?” I responded with news of what I had heard in Paris just a few weeks earlier: Still-new Louis Vuitton C.E.O. Pietro Beccari was happy for now to continue working with Ghesquière, who has been leading women’s at the LVMH-owned fashion house for nearly a decade, despite persistent rumors that the designer is on his way out. Beccari has plenty to manage with the arrival of Pharrell and the launch of his first men’s collection this June, and Ghesquière signed a contract not too long ago. So… just rumors.
But the rumors kept persisting, and by the time Chanel staged a 900-or-so-guest runway show at the Paramount Studios here in Los Angeles on May 9, it was all everyone was gossiping about at fashion parties and dinners around town. The talking point was that Viard’s tenure was always meant to be temporary, and that Ghesquière’s particular talents (his interest in texture and layering, his obsession with shape and structure), made him an ideal successor at Chanel, which has access to an incredible range of fabric mills and specialist manufactures, like the feather and flower house Lemarié, which the company owns. Ghesquière, like many designers, has also apparently dreamed of the Chanel job for decades—all the way back to his years at Kering-owned Balenciaga.
I still think, despite the logic, the odds are not in favor of it being true. At this point, Chanel doesn’t really need a superstar designer. It has the strongest brand DNA of any fashion house, and those codes are more powerful than any one person’s touch. (As for whomever is designing red carpet… that person needs to answer to God about Marion Cotillard’s jorts at Cannes.) Representatives for Chanel and Louis Vuitton declined to comment.