Practically synonymous with luxury, Chanel has been at the forefront of the high-end fashion world for over a century. With an instantly recognizable archive that is continuously updated, Chanel creates clothing, handbags, and accessories that are timeless and iconic. Here are 5 of our favorite Chanel pieces that will never go out of style.
The predecessor of the Classic Flap, the 2.55 is one of Chanel’s most iconic bags. When it was created in February 1955 (hence the name), the 2.55 bag caused a minor fashion scandal. At the time, most stylish women carried handbags or clutches, structured bags that required the use of one’s hands. The long chain strap on the 2.55 allowed the wearer to carry the bag over her shoulder, a novel concept for upper class women. With the freedom to carry items or simply put one’s hands in one’s pockets, the 2.55 bag changed the course of luxury handbag design.
The famous chain link strap on the 2.55 bag has conflicting mythologies. Either inspired by the chain link trim used to hem Chanel suit jackets, by equestrian tack, or by the belts worn by the nuns at the orphanage where Coco Chanel was raised, the 2.55 chain strap is nonetheless linked to Chanel’s origins. The rest of the 2.55 bag is similarly rich in references. The diamond stitched quilting was inspired by men’s equestrian jackets, and the signature Mademoiselle twist lock clasp is named so as a nod to Coco Chanel never marrying. The uniform Chanel wore at the orphanage inspired the burgundy lining of the bag. And the most romantic aspect of the 2.55 bag is the hidden zipped pocket, which is said to have been created for stashing secret love letters.
The Boy Bag
The Boy bag was created by Karl Lagerfeld and debuted in Chanel’s 2011 Fall/Winter collection. The bag was named for Arthur “Boy” Capel, a polo player with whom Coco Chanel had a nine-year romance. The Chanel Boy bag has a masculine look, with a boxy silhouette (inspired by a hunter’s cartridge bag), heavy Gourmette chain strap, and a bold CC logo closure. Beyond this basic structure, the Boy bag is continually reinvented, coming in a variety of silhouettes, materials, and patterns. Whether it features chevron quilting, iridescent hardware, or edgy overlapping chains, the Boy bag is a fashion favorite that is sure to turn heads.
Chanel did not invent the ballet flat, but no matter -- the brand’s signature cap toe style is what first comes to mind when we think of the iconic shoe. Popularized by actresses like Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn, ballet flats became a fashionable mid-century alternative to heels. It wasn’t until 1984 that Karl Lagerfeld designed the Chanel ballet flat for that year’s Spring/Summer collection. Inspired by the two-tone slingback designed by Coco Chanel in 1957, Lagerfeld’s ballet flat was crafted from beige leather with a black cap toe. Since then, Chanel ballet flats have been rendered in myriad colors and materials -- look for classic quilting, delicate bows, stitched CC logos, and even jeweled embellishments. Regardless of style, Chanel ballet flats are chic and timeless, ideal for any outfit.
Coco Chanel first introduced her tweed suit in 1924. Inspired by the sportswear worn by her boyfriend, the Duke of Westminster, Chanel commissioned a Scottish factory to produce her tweeds. Prior to this, tweed was mainly used for men’s outdoor clothing, but Chanel succeeded in feminizing the sturdy fabric. She eventually switched to a French factory, and added materials like wool, silk, and cellophane to make the tweed more lightweight. Chanel’s early tweed suits were designed to allow for ease of movement, gently skimming the body so as not to require a corset. Of her clothing designs, Chanel stated that she wanted women to “move like they’re not in a costume. Not changing attitude, or manner, depending on their dress -- it’s very difficult. And the human body is always moving.”
The introduction of Christian Dior’s “New Look” saw the prevalence of nipped in waists and full skirts. Chanel’s tweed jackets offered an alternative, as the 1950s design featured a boxy, structured silhouette, with a slim cut sleeve and interior chain link trim for the ideal hang. Since then, Chanel tweed suits and jackets have been a fashion mainstay that the brand continues to reinvent.
While Coco Chanel’s love for the camellia is evident, the exact reason for it is less well known. Chanel used the Camellia motif since the 1920s -- she wore silk Camellia flowers, designed Camellia diamond jewelry, and even had chandeliers made with glass Camellias throughout her home. One theory for this infatuation is that Chanel saw and loved a performance of Alexandre Dumas’ “La Dame Aux Camélias.” Another is that she was inspired by Marcel Proust, who is said to have worn the flower pinned to his jacket lapels. And yet another is that camellias don’t have a strong fragrance, and so can be paired with perfume. No matter the reason, it is clear that Chanel loved the elegant flower, and so do we. Chanel Camellias adorn everything from bags to ballet flats, but we’re partial to the brooch. Whether crafted from silk, velvet, or tweed, a well-placed Chanel Camellia brooch enhances any look.
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