THE HISTORY OF THE MINAUDIÉRE
1933 saw the creation of the Minaudière by Van Cleef & Arpels co-founder Charles Arpels, though the use of a metal case for an evening bag came around sometime before. The 1920s [or roaring 20s] saw the height of flapper and jazz culture, everything was all about maximalism. There was a need for evening bags for women since they were using cigarette cases to keep their personal items.
It is said that Charles Arpels took inspiration from socialite [and alleged racketeer] Florence Jay Gould, who was a loyal client and a muse for the Maison’s Minaudière. She would keep her accessories in a Lucky Strike cigarette tin, Arpels saw this and spotted an opportunity. Made out of precious materials like gold and embellished with precious stones, the Minaudière was a piece of jewellery in its own right. The different sections of the case were telling of this era of nightlife and the generation of ladies; there was often a miniature lighter, a lipstick holder, opera glasses, and a large section to hold cigarettes.
Rightfully so, current lifestyles may not allow handbags made from precious materials to be carried on an evening outing. However, that hasn’t stopped Haute Couture designers from creating their Minaudière pieces, which often shine through as stand-out runway pieces due to their novelty appearance and hefty price tag. The two at the top of their Minaudière game are Chanel & Judith Leiber, both with individualistic tastes.
Chanel tended to always be one step ahead of the rest of the industry in terms of design innovations, as seen in the 1950s when Gabrielle Coco Chanel created the Chanel 2.55 bag. Further ahead on the brand's journey, under the steering of Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel Minaudières appear on the RTW runway and annual Métiers d’Art presentations; paying homage to the artisanal workshops which uphold the Chanel brand. These hard-sided bags are produced in very limited quantities and often only reserved for VVIP Chanel clientele, though there is a constant inflow of special collection pieces available to buy [or can be sourced] at Rewind Vintage.
CHANEL Paris Roma No. 5 Buonasera Perfume Bottle Minaudière
This limited edition Minaudière is shaped in one of Chanel’s most iconic silhouettes; the No. 5 perfume bottle. This was first presented at the 2016 Métiers D'Art Paris-Roma collection, which took inspiration from French actresses and Italian cinema and was centred around the iconic Cinecittà Studios. The other Minaudière from the collection was [rightfully] in the shape of an old film camera.
CHANEL Vintage See-Through Minaudière
The transparent plexiglass Minaudière was first shown at the 2015 Chanel resort collection show in Dubai. Much like the city, the bag speaks to the futuristic dynamics of the culture while keeping to Chanel brand culture. Unlike the first conception of Minaudières, this features a chain to be worn on the shoulder or arm. The Dubai presentation well represented how the city inspired the designs, with one of the other notable Minaudière from the collection being a plexiglass shaped Gas Can, referring to the oil exports which transformed the economy of the city.
CHANEL Paris Hamburg Minaudière
2017 saw the Hamburg Métiers D’Art, and also the introduction of a few new Minaudière designs. The German city is best known as a seaport, and this heavily inspired the collection. There were seven colour ways of this shipping container-shaped Minaudière, a great example of the playful designs we often see from Chanel's special pieces. This collection was also one of the first introductions to the life-ring shaped Minaudière which makes a frequent reappearance in both ready-to-wear and Metiers D’Art collections.