By Jasmine Wallis
There are luxury staples and then there are Chanel handbags. The French maison has been crafting the world’s most coveted designer bags for close to a century—counting Hollywood royalty, actual royalty, and a whole paean of glamorous ‘It’ girls among their fans. Fashion wisdom has long dictated that a Chanel handbag is a “safer investment than the stock market”, with classic shapes by the brand retaining their value for years, even decades. While all Chanel handbags are impossibly chic, there are five key styles that remain classic and aspirational year after year. Here, we break them down.
Created in February 1955 (hence the name), the 2.55 isn’t just one of Chanel’s most beloved and classic shapes, it’s a piece of fashion history. While Gabrielle Chanel had been creating handheld bags since 1929, the 2.55 changed the way upper-class women carried their belongings, becoming the first ever luxury bag to hang off the shoulder. The modern 2.55 features a rectangular body, the Mademoiselle Turnlock as well as Chanel’s signature chain strap.
Designed by Karl Lagerfeld in 2011, Chanel’s Boy bag is a nod to Gabrielle Chanel’s romantic past. Named after Chanel’s polo playing lover, Boy Capel, the modern design is edgy and androgynous. You can spot a Boy bag by the signature exaggerated Chanel quilted texture, boxy shape, the interlocking double-c clasp and a mixture of leather and chains in the strap.
Proving the staying power of the famous French design house, the Gabrielle was released in 2017 to attract a younger demographic. Inspired by the woman herself, Karl Lagerfeld created a bag that was an instant classic (despite the initial mixed reviews from Chanel’s fan base). With more of a tote-style look, you can spot a Gabrielle by its trapezoid shape, signature diamond-stitching, and crossbody leather and chain straps.
A 1980’s update on the 2.55, the Classic Flap—also known as the 11.12—was designed to pay homage to Chanel’s 20th century roots with added modern elements. The differences are subtle, most obviously Karl Lagerfeld’s introduction of the now-iconic interlocking ‘C’ clasp. He also replaced the 2.55’s all-metal chain with an interlaced leather and metal chain. Now, the ‘Flap’ is arguably Chanel’s most famous handbag.
Famous for being the last It-bag designed by Karl Lagerfeld, the Chanel 19 is named after the year it debuted—2019. Taking part inspiration from the 2.55 and the Classic Flap, the 19 was a super-modernised take on Chanel’s accessories heritage, rendered in an oversized silhouette, punchy colours (watermelon pink, baby blue) with exaggerated statement stitching, a chunky chain, and a ‘C’ logo with interwoven leather detailing.
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