Chanel 2.55 Classic Designer Handbag

If the Chanel 2.55 bag is not the most iconic bag in the history of handbags, it is certainly in the top three. Look at any magazine editor's list of “must-haves”, and you will likely see the Chanel 2.55 on the list. The quilted leather, turn-lock closure, and chain strap are all original Chanel design elements that have literally launched a thousand knockoffs, and about a million more “inspired-by” handbags from design houses big and small. So what's the story behind this most classic of classics?

The Chanel 2.55 handbag, despite a name that sounds like an upgraded version of a software program to our modern sensibilities, was actually named thusly because it was launched on the 2nd of February, 1955. Perhaps what makes this bag one of the most iconic bags in history is that much of what was going on in Coco Chanel's personal life ended up informing the design of the bag, giving the wearer a real sense of the designer. For instance, the 2.55 has a zippered pocket on the inside of the front flap. Legend has it that this is where Chanel stored letters that were sent to her from her lover at the time. Additionally, the 2.55 has a simple turn-lock closure instead of the more obvious double-c logo that you see on other designs. This closure was named the “madamoiselle” closure, due to the fact that Chanel was never married. Perhaps most interestingly is the leather and chain handle strap that adorns so many of Chanel's bags, the 2.55 included. The folklore behind this iconic design element points to Chanel's childhood. Chanel spent several years in an orphanage, and was reported to have had vivid memories of her caretakers wearing their keys around their waists on a similar type of chain. It is said that the burgundy lining of the bag is also symbolic of the uniforms the orphans wore while she was at the orphanage.

Knowing the origin of these little design details somehow puts Chanel's humanity at the forefront, and allows us to see this iconic handbag that we have been looking at (and loving) for decades in a different, more personal light.