The iconic Chanel 2.55 was the start of a new era for handbags. It was the first bag to have a strap, transforming the standard purse into the handbags that we see today. This was pivotal for women's fashion and was born out of a need for practicality. Women at this time were working their way into positions of influence in the workplace and needed a handbag that could allow them to use their hands freely. This was achieved by adding a strap similar to those used on jacket hems to help them sit properly.
Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel designed the 2.55 herself and originally had the idea in the 1920s but launched after the second world war in February 1955, giving the handbag its name. Coco turned a purse into one of the most wanted fashion accessories for the next 60 years. The 2.55 is the epitome of luxury and style and one of few fashion items that is recognised by the general public.
Coco used her childhood to inspire the design of the 2.55 through elements taken from those that surrounded her at her convent orphanage. The strap is said to be based on the caretakers key chains, the red leather lining is the shade of the orphans uniforms and the double c logo itself is inspired by a linked motif from the orphanage’s stained glass windows. The signature quilted leather was inspired by a fonder memory for Coco and comes from the coats worn by jockeys.
The original design has now been adapted time and time again by Karl Lagerfeld altering fabrics, dimensions, styles and chains. Each adaption has most of the original design features including the most famously ‘secret’ zipped pocket that was said to hold Coco’s love letters. There was an exact copy of Coco's original 2.55 reissued on its 50th anniversary in 2005 but most of the bags commonly recognised today are the 2.55 classic flap. These are identified by their interlocking C lock rather than the Mademoiselle lock of the original.