Chanel designed her first shoulder-strapped bag (which was later numerically defined “2.55”) in the Twenties, influenced by soldiers’ knapsacks. She was bored of having to clutch their predecessors in her hands – which, she felt, should be occupied with more important work. The Chanel bag, therefore, was the ultimate feminist accessory: it let women get on with their lives, just like men.
The 2.55 Chanel bag turns 60 this month and it was a hit since first presented to the market.
Coco Chanel herself owned about 15 bags in different variations.
For its first revamp, Coco Chanel added a contrast burgundy lining, which, apparently, referenced the uniforms of the Aubazine Abbey orphanage where she grew up. The quilting gave it structure, and harked back to all the quilting on Chanel’s suits.
The house of Chanel itself revived the 2.55 in the Eighties, under Karl Lagerfeld, adding variations on the theme including a leather-twined chain and double-C clasps: it became a status symbol again then, an It Bag before that god-awful phrase was even invented a decade later.
Belonging to the canon of universal style, designers such as Tory Burch, Mulberry and even good old Topshop can offer variations on the style without feeling like they’re copying.
Chanel’s Fifties classic shows no signs of waning popularity, whether the name affixed to it belongs to Chanel, or one of a host of others.
There are many versions of the classic flap-bag today; colourful, wintery, close to the original, with fur, in phyton, velvety. Hard to decide what looks best; if you invest in one bag only, this one could be for sure a very timeless choice.
This article is based on Chanel’s 2.55 celebrates 60 years as the greatest it-bag of all time.