Chanel’s classic flap handbag, a short history

 For Chanel devotees, there is one handbag that outshines them all… the flap. The iconic handbag was first issued in February 1955, and is often referred to as the 255 or 2.55 as a result.

 Every design element of the original had a purpose behind its inclusion — the lining’s color represented the convent’s uniforms, where Coco spent part of her youth; the chains of the shoulder straps represent the waist chain belts which the nuns kept their keys upon; the leather’s quilting references racetrack boys’ quilted uniforms, and her love of horse racing; she hid love letters in the zippered, interior compartment inside the bag’s outer flap; she kept money in the exterior pocket, and even the “Mademoiselle lock” was named after the unmarried Coco, called “Mademoiselle” until the day she died.

In 1983, Karl Lagerfeld took over as Chanel’s Chief Designer, and introduced the interlocking CC turnlock to the bag’s design. By the mid 80’s, Chanel bags were produced with serial numbers included inside each bag, as a way to discourage counterfeiters. Other major changes during this era were the change from double flap to a single flap, as well as the inclusion of leather woven into the chain links of the shoulder straps. New sizes, and new leathers and fabrics were introduced in subsequent seasons as well.

 In February 2005, Lagerfeld reissued the classic flap design with all of Coco’s original detailing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the handbag’s debut. In handbag parlance, these bags are referred to as “Reissues,” while Lagerfeld’s CC turnlock versions are known as “Classic Flaps.”

To this day, the Chanel flap remains one of the most recognizable handbags in the world, and is synonymous with timeless elegance and pratical luxury.

Chanel bags, Jacqueline Kennedy, Mia Farrow

A classic then, and now.

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Published in: on October 24, 2009 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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