CHANEL: Fashion passes, Style Remains

Mini inside Camellia_new
Mini Handheld Flap Bag, circa 1993

If you were to ask a woman what her dream handbag is, majority would say “Chanel”. The success of the iconic brand, as well as every Chanel handbag ever designed, can be traced back to its founder, creator and matron of French style – Coco Chanel.

Fashion would have been very different, if it were not for Coco Chanel who was responsible for revolutionizing ladies’ clothes after World War I. She did not only feminize menswear (i.e. blazers, cardigans, riding breeches for women), and made them easy to wear and functional. Under her influence, the colors, black and white became chic. Everything Chanel touched was immediately considered stylish.

Photo of Coco Chanel in multiple strands of pearls by Boris Lipnitzki, 1936 “Les Eternels de Chanel” (Eternal Icons), sketched by Karl Lagerfeld, 2002
Photo of Coco Chanel in multiple strands of pearls by Boris Lipnitzki, 1936
“Les Eternels de Chanel” (Eternal Icons), sketched by Karl Lagerfeld, 2002

In 1920s, it was customary for ladies to carry handbags in their hands. Coco Chanel decided to add a shoulder strap (inspired by soldiers’ bags) to her handbag, which would free up her hands. She first introduced the shoulder bag in 1929. Later, Chanel decided to revamp the handbag, resulting in what we know today as the “2.55” named after its date of creation (Feb 1955). All subsequent Chanel handbags were created based on the essence of the 2.55.

My First Chanel, Small Flap Bag, circa 1988
My First Chanel, Small Flap Bag, circa 1988

After I decided to write about Chanel, I revisited a few “older” handbags in my closet.   It was like a walk down memory lane. I am most sentimental with the oldest one – my first Chanel, (a classic small flap bag) which was a birthday present from my mother over 25 years ago. She thought it fitting for a young lady living in New York City.

Photo taken by Mrs. King - Mini Classic, circa 1988 Camellias photographed by Lemarie Ateliers
Photo taken by Mrs. King – Mini Classic, circa 1988
Camellias photographed by Lemarie Ateliers

After nearly three decades, the handbags could be considered “vintage”, but then again, they look so modern.   Each one continues to be a timeless classic, just as Coco Chanel intended. After all, they are the descendants of the 2.55. Coco was spot-on when she predicted, “Fashion passes. Style remains.”

All photos were taken by Mrs. King, unless otherwise stated.

 

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