The Evolution of Chanel’s 2.55 Classic Handbag

Did you know that Mademoiselle Coco Chanel was the first designer to introduce an elegant version of the shoulder bag? Although one already existed—as a large pouch with complementing wide strap for military members—Mademoiselle Chanel introduced the first ever fashionable women’s handbag. That was in 1929.

Then, when the 2.55 handbag debuted in February 1955, an icon was born. This all-purpose handbag, created in leather for day and silk or jersey for evening was a functional showpiece desired by the chicest women of the day. The double flap featured an interior zip-fastened pocket with three additional pockets—one highlight was the tube pocket for holding lipstick. Today the handbag is recognized for its quilted pattern and double cross C’s on the closure, a feature that was adopted from the 2.55’s inception in the middle of the 20th century.

Now, after more than half a century, Karl Lagerfeld is continuing to honor the values and modernity of Mademoiselle Chanel as the creative director of the house of Chanel. Updating this classic accessory, Lagerfeld has adorned the 2.55 in everything from denim, tweed, velvet, sequins, and raffia. But he is always faithful to the tradition of the stylish handbag. Mademoiselle Chanel once confided to Paul Morand: “Tired of carrying my bag in my hand and losing it, I added a strap and wore it as a shoulder bag.” Indeed it was this visionary genius that catapulted Chanel into one of the most successful and sought after luxury brands of the world. And Monsieur Lagerfeld has certainly taken this vision to the next level with the evolution of the 2.55 handbag over the years.

To highlight the superior craftsmanship of the Chanel handbag, the design house is launching “The Secrets of the Chanel Handbag,” an exhibition that takes patrons through the construction of the iconic handbag and its progression over time. Guests of the 57th Street boutique will be welcome to interact with a visual presentation that features handbags from the Parisian archives, as well as peruse the latest collection of Classic Chanel handbags. Launching on May 8, the exhibition will stay open through May 16.