#CHANELHandbagStories – CHANEL BAGS

More than a classic, the 2.55 is an icon. A true stylistic disruption that initiated a new, liberating and modern usage, CHANEL’s original handbag is a pure concentrate of fantasy, history and luxury, finely crafted step by step.

True to form, Gabrielle Chanel created the 2.55 out of personal necessity. In February 1955 (hence the name 2.55), she created a bag of timeless beauty that is cleverly designed both inside and out, as well as beautiful from every angle. Carried over the shoulder thanks to a strap either in chain laced with leather ribbons or in rows of flat metal links (an allusion to the chain that Mademoiselle sewed into the hem of suit jackets to ensure they’d fall perfectly), the 2.55 not only freed up its wearer’s hands but also harmoniously followed the body’s movements. Its lambskin, jersey or silk exterior was overstitched with diamond-shaped quilting inspired by the equestrian world Gabrielle Chanel so loved.

To this day, the 2.55’s design takes its cues from the principles set down by Gabrielle Chanel in 1955. It still has exactly seven pockets. The first, on the back, curves “like Mona Lisa’s smile.” The six others are found inside the bag: two gusseted pockets for business cards, credit cards or a compact; a pocket specifically designed to hold lipstick, a “secret” zip pocket, and, lastly, two wide pockets for letters and other documents. The garnet red leather lining enhances practicality, as items are easier to discern against a colored background. Lastly, the double C appears overstitched on the inside of the flap. The finishing touch: a rectangular twist clasp, called the “Mademoiselle” clasp, which was joined a few years later by a second one in the shape of a double C that became just as iconic and led to the creation of a bag that the House named the 11.12.

Every season, Karl Lagerfeld transforms the iconic 2.55. Its repertoire of materials now includes aged or grained calfskin, tweed, precious embroidery by Maison Lesage, denim, patent leather, velvet, alligator and python.

A symbol of elegance, excellence and know-how, the iconic CHANEL handbag requires more than 180 different procedures to complete and just as many meticulous gestures, with rigorous quality control every step of the way. In the workshops of the CHANEL production unit in Verneuil, north of Paris, producing a single bag can take up to 15 hours.

In 2011, the Boy CHANEL joined the family of emblematic CHANEL bags.

A curb chain with large, rounded links in metal or patinated ruthenium; a rectangular flap, a graphic clasp: with androgynous elegance, the Boy CHANEL gets straight to the essentials. Karl Lagerfeld, inspired by the hunters’ cartridge pouches Mademoiselle used to wear cross-body, created the Boy in that spirit, anchoring it firmly within the house’s heritage. “Chanel had this attitude — it’s the very spirit of Chanel. She picked it up from Boy Capel, the great love of her life… so we named the bag the Boy CHANEL,” Karl Lagerfeld explains.

The designer has reinterpreted the Boy CHANEL every season since. A true fashion accessory, steeped in luxury, the Boy CHANEL combines know-how with modernity, reflecting all of the House’s values of excellence.

In 2016, Karl Lagerfeld created a new bag, CHANEL’S GABRIELLE. Presented at the Spring-Summer 2017 ready-to-wear fashion show, this bag draws on the futuristic spirit of the collection while giving a clever nod to Gabrielle Chanel. This time, the designer took inspiration from the shape of virtual reality goggles and, incidentally, the binocular cases gentlemen used to sport over their shoulder at the racetrack.

Fitted on a rigid thermoformed base, the body of CHANEL’S GABRIELLE is extremely light and ultra-supple: this contrasting structure gives it perfect presence and form. Its adjustable strap is twinned with a double silver- and gold-tone metal chain interwoven with leather. This original detail allows for three different styles of wear: either over the shoulder, cross-body or both at once, with the chain strap over the shoulder and the other strap worn cross-body.

CHANEL’s power and originality are also expressed through six annual handbag collections illustrating Karl Lagerfeld’s boundless creativity. Each season, the designer dreams up new carryalls, backpacks, minaudières, bucket bags, evening clutches, trolley bags, hobo bags and more. Vectors of emotion, CHANEL handbags defy trends and the passage of time to become heritage pieces that are handed down from one generation to the next. As Gabrielle Chanel liked to say, “Fashion passes, style remains.”

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