For Virginie Viard, inspiration comes from strolling along the Seine

I cross the Seine most days – it gives me a breath of fresh air, a sense of momentum. It’s like a stepping stone. And it reminds me of so many different photographs of Paris, showing all sorts of time periods and atmospheres. When I worked with my former boss, Karl Lagerfeld, we took a lot of photos on the quays. When he didn’t know where to go, we went down to the river.

Especially in winter I enjoy going for walks when no one is out. I never go to the park when there are a lot of people there. I like feeling a little bit free: I go everywhere, no gate, no barricades, no line. I grew up in Dijon, but I’ve spent most of my adult life in Paris, and as the creative director of Chanel, this was the only place I could live. It’s not just because it’s Paris – it’s because idea from Paris. It’s the wandering, the wandering in the head and in the city. The funny thing is that now whenever I go anywhere, I always imagine a Chanel show in this place: “What would we do? How could we make it work?” I haven’t seen it that way since I took on this role three years ago.

Inspiration often comes when I’m taking a break. During the week I think about my work all day – and then when I’m at home, the ideas come to me. I’ll take notes on my phone or call one of my team members and say, “Look, I’m thinking this or that…” Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing anything, but I actually do. I can’t go on weekend trips: I need to spend time in my own head – that calms me down.

I’m very instinctive. If I suddenly don’t want to show something, if I don’t dare to put it on a model – after all, I’m the one who dresses them in the studio – well, I don’t do it. However, I never really have creative blocks; If I allowed myself to, I would have her all the time. Instead, I tell myself, “I’ve got a job I love, and I have to keep going.” I’ve always been like this. I know I’m doing my best, so if there’s a moment when it doesn’t work, I try something else.

I don’t feel like an artist at all. Coco Chanel really did invent things; She took off the corset. But I think design isn’t like that anymore – everything already exists. So I’m very flexible; I adapt And I like doing everything. I love decoration almost as much as fashion; I enjoy everything from putting together a bouquet of flowers to arranging fruit and vegetables. And whether you have a lot or nothing, it’s the same. It’s a way of being.

This interview has been edited and abridged.

Manufacturer: Kitten. Hair: Sebastien Le Coroller. Make-up: Carole Hannah. Photo assistant: Mathieu Boutang

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