History of the bag: Chanel Flap Bag – l'Étoile de Saint Honoré

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History of the bag: Chanel Flap Bag – l'Étoile de Saint Honoré

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This iconic bag is often referend to as the Chanel 2.55 or the Chanel Classic Flap Bag, but these are indeed two different bags! Over the past 65 years these iconic bags have become available in different sizes, styles, colors, and materials, and they come with quite some history.. The Chanel 2.55 and the Classic Flap Bag are often thought to be the same bag. Looking at the history and design you'll find out that there are some different features. 

The ever elegant Chanel flap bag… Where do I even begin?😍 This handbag is the epidome of elegance and is undisputedly one of the most important accessories in the history of fashion. I have done a thorough research on its rich narrative and timeless design history so you can learn all the interesting facts about this masterpiece. Chanel’s first design bag (2.55 bag) The story goes that, in the 1920s, Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel became tired of carrying her bag in her hands and losing it, and as such designed a handbag that would free up her hands to use them for something more useful than carrying a bag (i.e., any social functions at the time: smoking, sipping drinks, reading the libretto of an opera, etc). That’s when she invented the thin, short and all-chain shoulder straps! And she got the inspiration from mens fashion, specifically the soldiers’ saddlebags. Fast forward to 1955, at age 70, Coco Chanel released the iconic quilted design (see image below), which was called 2.55 after the date of its creation, February 1955, combining leather with a gold chain. For the first time, it was acceptable for women to carry a bag on their shoulders. This handbag was no longer just ‘used’, but it was worn which paved the way for a new life style for the women of that era. The iconic jersey handbag has a number of features: Leather/chain Woven Straps: The history behind the design of the 2.55 double-chain shoulder strap comes from the caretakers of the orphanage where she grew up, who held the keys at their waist hanging from the same type of chains. The first Chanel purses featured all chain straps but the story goes that when resources became scarce in the following years, Coco subbed in leather to fill the straps so the current interwoven leather and chain strap in the classic flap bags was a response due to this resource scarcity rather than a new fashion trend per se. Eventually, when resources became available, there was no longer a need to make handbags with both materials, however, Chanel will always homage to the brand’s roots by featuring both leather and chain in the classic flap bags, while the 2.55 tells a further back story and will only feature chain. The general rule to differentiate the older and newer 2.55 bags is that older bags may feature a leather filled strap (from depression time) whereas the newer ones (when pulled out of the depression) use mainly chain straps. The Mademoiselle Lock As shown below, the Chanel 2.55 bag had a rectangular “mademoiselle” twist closure. Yes, that’s right, no CC logo on the original Chanel bag! Contrary to popular belief, the signature CC logo on Chanel handbag was not introduced until after Chanel’s death, when Karl Lagerfeld became the creative director at the house of Chanel where he designed the CC interlocks in the 1980s. The Mademoiselle Lock on the 2.55 bags gets its name from the fact that Coco Chanel was never married. Quilted diamond or herringbone pattern exterior: The inspiration behind this common pattern of the flap bags is believed to be several sources:                   1) most of my research points out to the inspiration coming from the jockeys’ riding coats as well as male stablehands that Coco had frequently observed at the racetracks (Chanel was particularly a fond of riding fashion, in fact, Chanel’s most recent line of flap bag, the Boy Bag, was named after and inspired by Coco’s longtime lover, polo player Boy Capel.) 2) by the stained-glass windows of the abbey at Aubazine (orphanage), 3) by the cushions in Chanel’s Paris apartment. The interior burgundy colour: This is by far my favourite feature. Many of the Chanel Flap Bags feature a burgundy interior, which represents the colour of the uniforms worn at the orphanage where Coco was raised. This is in honor of Chanel’s past. There is a zippered compartment under the top flap that is oddly placed and is only unique to the Chanel bags. Rumour has it that Coco was submerged in a world of secrecy and romantic trysts and so she designed this hidden compartment to stash her love letters, hidden from indiscreet eyes. The handy small pocket on the back side of the bag was used for storage of money, which gave women more independence as it allowed them to spend their money whenever and however they wished. Different Types of Flap Bags Chanel’s Flap Bags have one of the most confusing taxonomies in handbag history so here is a quick rundown of different types of flap bags: 2.55: This refers to the original design by Coco Chanel which had the Mademoiselle Lock but is often used to refer to all flap bags that feature the brand’s traditional design. Classic Flap: This refers to Flap Bags with CC locks that follow the design convention Karl Lagerfeld introduced in the 80’s. Reissue: These were released in 2005 (on the 50th anniversary of the 2.55) as an exact recreation of the original 2.55. Technically, reissue only refers to these newer recreations from 2005, but they are also often used to refer to all 2.55 models. Confusing, I know. Boy Bag: As mentioned before, these bags were inspired by Chanel’s lover, Boy Capel who supported her throughout her career. Released in 2011, the bag features the interlocking CC lock, quilted leather and updated details like only one compartment making for a lighter feel and subtle, casual touches. Interesting fact: The house of Chanel celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 2.55 bag In February 2005, where they represented an identical recreation of the bag, down to the tiniest details. 2.55 has remained a masterpiece and even today it takes six artisans 10 hours to assemble all its 180 parts by hands🤯. In conclusion, the 2.55 bag survived pass the death of its inventor in 1971 (when Coco was 81 years old), and the resulting classic flaps still remain one of the most iconic fashion accessories that can follow all fashion trends and have been the inspiration behind many fashion designers over the years. Share via: Facebook Twitter Copy Link Email More

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My far-from-scientific gut feeling is that 99 percent of all girls polled will say they would love to own a classic quilted Chanel bag. It's the sort of simple chic that lands on the wish lists of prim preppy and downtown types alike, and it's never going out of style (or, sadly, on sale, with most classic styles retailing a little over $3,000). To celebrate what would've been Coco Chanel's birthday today, we're focusing on the quilted 2.55 bag and the stories and history behind its creation. —The name 2.55 is the bag's own birthday: It was created in February 1955. —It wasn't the first Chanel-designed bag. That honor belongs to a piece created in 1929, but the 2.55 was modified for practical reasons. "I got fed up with holding my purses in my hands and losing them, so I added a strap and carried them over my shoulder," Chanel was reported as saying in Coco Chanel by Justine Picardie. —Those chain straps might've been influenced by a few different things: the bridles and harnesses of horses or the type of belts worn by the nuns who presided over Coco's early education. —The quilted leather, now so synonymous with the

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