Few design houses have amassed a bag archive as storied as Chanel’s. From the founder’s era-defining creations to Karl Lagerfeld’s later novelties, the list of iconic Chanel bags is remarkably lengthy. Here, amongst all fashion magazines, Luxury Designers takes a look at the most celebrated Chanel totes, clutches and cross-body bags in handbag history...
When Gabrielle Chanel created the 2.55 in February 1955, (hence the name,) scandal ensued. It was the first bag for women to come with a shoulder strap – a detail that offered freedom from the impractical constraints of the clutch. It was considered rebellious, even uncouth, but women have been enraptured by the practicality it afforded. Chanel herself loved the way she could slip both hands into the pockets of her coat, striking a free, determined pose. The 2.55 was a revelation and instantly became a house icon.
As the first bag created with women’s everyday needs in mind, the 2.55 was packed with practical details. The chain strap (inspired by the tiny chains Chanel would use to weight the hems of her suit jackets) could be doubled up and swung from one shoulder, while the hidden zip pocket was ideal for secretly storing love letters (as the designer, in the midst of a romantic affair, reportedly did.) The back slip pocket was earmarked for cash, and the central compartment perfectly shaped for a lipstick.
The 2.55 also marked the introduction of the two lasting Chanel signatures. The deep burgundy hue of the interior was inspired by the designer’s childhood uniform at the Aubazine Abbey orphanage, and the diamond-stitched quilting was borrowed from the jackets worn by men at the races.
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