The allure of Chanel handbags has held firm against the tide of time, trends and uncanny imposters since their incarnation in 1955. Classic, timeless, chic, iconic-- many luxury brands toss around such superlative adjectives with liberal abandon whilst a rarefied few possess the quality, pedigree, heritage and cache of Chanel. Often imitated, but never replicated, few brands boast the buttery soft lambskin of the 2.55, tactile texture of a caviar leather Chanel Classic or effortless cool-factor of Le Boy. We celebrate our catalogue of covetable Chanel handbags of both past and present. So the question is, which is your favourite?
When Coco Chanel conceived the 2.55, form elegantly followed function. Ever the trail blazer, Chanel’s pioneering design neatly paired both women’s desires and practical needs in one beautiful, easy to carry accessory. In much the same way as her garments unshackled women from the breathtakingly restrictive whalebone corsetry, Chanel’s foray into accessories followed suit. It was the first handbag fashioned with a shoulder strap, thus ‘liberating’ women from the uncomfortable awkwardness and limited capacity of clutch purses. The signature chain link straps (cleverly adapted from the delicate links employed to weigh the hems of her suits), and soft, diamond quilted leather are now Chanel hallmarks. Originally it was crafted to be roomy enough for women’s personal affairs and odd stash of makeup, as was becoming increasingly the convention for women to wear. Ever the seductress with a string of lovers throughout her colourful career, the discreet back pocket was originally created to stash secret love letters of Chanel’s illicit affairs. The structured, rectangular silhouette is today re-issued in a variety of sizes, materials and embellishments to suit any taste or occasion. The 2.55 is Chanel at its iconic and pioneering best and so deserving its place at the top of our list of Classic Chanel handbags.
In 1983 Karl Lagerfeld took creative control of Chanel and soon after issued his own version of Coco’s original handbag with the ChanelClassic. Loyal to the 2.55 in shape and functionality, its successor boasts two distinct modifications in the lock and signature leather-woven chain link strap. The delicate rectangular mademoiselle turn lock of the 2.55 gives way to the iconic interlocking double ‘C’ logo lock capitalising on the rising trend for conspicuous branding. As either a single or double flap bag, the Chanel Classic is the ultimate symbol of aspirational accessorising.
Cementing his status as the ‘Kaiser’ of Chanel, in 2011 Lagerfeld launched another modern classic in Le Boy. This covetable arm-candy pays homage to its predecessors with its hallmark geometric silhouette and roomy rectangular body, yet with a punkish twist. Featuring a bulky metal chain, bullring hoops and chunky ‘lego brick’ lock, where the 2.55 and Chanel Classic emit a rather more discreet cache, Le Boy turns up the ‘cool’ factor with its attention-grabbing heavy metal hardware and edgy appeal. Signature quilted body framed by a thick border of stitched leather lends Le Boy a rather more robust, structured look that can be dressed up or down. An adjustable leather and metal strap offers versatility allowing it to be worn over the shoulder or as a trendy cross-body bag.
Celebrating all things 80’s, the Diana offers old school sophistication and vintage appeal in spades. Often seen gracing the shoulder of Lady Di in her heyday, this dressier, more feminine iteration of its lauded peers is a real collectors’ item. Much like its namesake princess, the sweeping, curved closure and single long chain strap exude unrivaled beauty, class, taste and grown-up glamour. Originally crafted in 24k gold plated hardware, Xupes’ black satin Mini Diana epitomises understated elegance and has become a cult bag in its own right, enhancing any ensemble and offering its wearer a touch of royal style.
The Camera Bag
We love the camera bag for its casual, off-duty charm. The soft, petite silhouette is small and comfortable to carry cross body whilst roomy enough for all one’s essential needs. Often adorned with a playful tassle-zip, the camera bag is a fun alternative to the more formal players in Chanel’s armoury of accessories.
The Grand Shopping Tote
Though discontinued in 2015, the original Grand Shopping Tote, or GST has nonetheless established itself as a firm favourite among fans for its informal, slouchy comfort, versatility and everyday portability. This is one of the luxury house’s largest and perhaps most handy bag for modern times with soft leather cushioned straps and easy-access capacity. Popularised in the early Noughties by the likes of Paris Hilton and her starlet contemporaries, today the GST remains in high demand and is a real find for collectors.