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A brief history of Chanel 2.55 handbags

February 17, 2015

A brief history of Chanel 2.55 handbags

In February 1955, Coco Chanel launched the 2.55 quilted handbag, a design that is still adored 60 years later and one of the most recognisable fashion icon today. Named after its birthday, the 2.55 bag is the epitome of style and luxury and continued to captivate women ever since. So, what made the 2.55 so special?

  • Coco Chanel was fed up of holding her purses with her hands and losing them so she designed a double-chain shoulder strap to be carried on her shoulder.
  • The chain straps were influenced by various things; the caretakers at the convent where she grew up held their keys on their waist with the same chains she used on the 2.55 bags' shoulder strap.
  • The original design of the bag was lined in burgundy, which represents the colour of the Catholic school uniforms Coco Chanel wore.
  • Coco Chanel designed a rectangular front twist lock which was secure yet practical, known as the 'mademoiselle' twist lock.
  • The quilted “diamond” design was influenced by several sources: by jockeys’ riding coats, by the stained-glass windows of the abbey at Aubazine, as well as by the cushions in Chanel’s apartment in Paris. With the use of a running stitch, the bag holds its shape and volume well. In addition, there are 'secret stitches' at the back to ensure durability.
  • The zippered compartment at the back of the front flap is where Coco Chanel was rumoured to keep her love letters. At the back of the bag, the half-moon shaped pocket is where Coco hides her cash (and for us, it's probably where we will keep our parking tickets and mobile phone).

Coco Chanel

The original 2.55 bag Coco designed (1960's)

The very first 2.55 bags were hand stitch in two variations, leather or jersey (previously used for mens' garments). Whether it is paired with jeans or evening gown, the Chanel bag is versatile. For more than half a century it has been the perfect accessory and most sought after bag.

Chanel 2.55 flap bag

Compartment to store a lipstick (without which Chanel never showed herself to the world). 

chanel 2.55 bags

In the early 1980's, Karl Lagerfeld added variations on the original design including different sizes, leather and fabric combinations, the interlocking CC logo and the metal inter-woven leather straps. These were called the ''Classic flap bags''. The bags have also been produced in leather, suede, fur, exotic skins, vinyl, and a selection of fabrics such as satin, jersey and tweed. The hardware was available in gold or silver. The vintage Jumbo and Maxi versions had single flaps while the small and medium sizes were available in both single and double flaps. The more recent Chanel 2.55 bags are only made with double flaps.  


Classic flap bag sizes.


Chanel leather

The lambskin leather is soft and delicate (left), whilst the calfskin, also known as caviar leather has a visible texture and is more hard wearing (right).  

In February 2005, Karl Lagerfeld reproduced the exact copy of the 2.55 bag in commemoration of Chanel's 50th anniversary. It was named the 'Reissue 2.55'; which is quite often mistaken with the classic flap bags (with the interlocking CC lock). The Chanel 2.55 Reissues were available in soft lambskin and calfskin leather. The hardware was also available in gold, silver, pewter or black.

Chanel reissue bag

Picture credit:
(Clockwise) 2.55 reissue bag in lambskin leather, patent leather and jersey fabric.



 2.55 reissue bag sizes. 

  Princess Diana Chanel bag

Princess Diana holding a vintage Chanel classic single flap bag in black (1990's) 

If you are looking for a bag that will never go out of style and love for a long time, the Chanel 2.55 will be it.



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