Handbags & Accessories

The Chanel Flap Bag: Iconic Since 1955

By Lindsey Weiss
Shop Chanel Flap Bags , Available for Immediate Purchase
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The History of the Chanel Flap Bag

In February 1955, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel designed her most iconic handbag, the 2.55 flap. Coco Chanel was an innovator, re-imagining fashion for the modern woman and breaking boundaries with each item she designed. The Chanel 2.55 Flap signified fashion liberation: it was the first bag made with a shoulder strap, freeing women from the constraints of the impractical clutch. Women were immediately drawn to the practicality including the adjustable chain strap and accessible back slip pocket. The Chanel 2.55 Flap also manifested two iconic Chanel handbag details: diamond-stitched quilting (inspired by men’s jackets at the racetrack), and the deep burgundy hue of the interior lining. According to fashion lore, the iconic burgundy leather interior lining of this Chanel bag represents the color of the uniform that Gabrielle Chanel wore in the Aubazine Abbey convent as a child in France. Arguably the most famous Chanel bag of all time, the 2.55 Flap bag is a timeless icon.

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Reinterpreted Chanel Flap Bag

The Chanel Classic Double Flap was first introduced in 1983 when Karl Lagerfeld became creative director and decided to reinterpret Chanel’s iconic 2.55 Flap Bag. From his artistic vision came two new features – a leather woven chain and Double C turn-lock closure. Lagerfeld’s Classic Double Flap was an instant success. In spring 2021, the Chanel Classic Flap was renamed to the 11.12, in honor of the original Medium Classic Flap’s style code – A01112. The universal wearability and simplicity of the Chanel Classic Double Flap solidified this bag as an iconic statement piece. In addition, the Classic Flap comes with an endless range of options, including quilting (the iconic classic vs. the more youthful chevron), leathers, sizes, and hardware combinations. While the Chanel Classic Flap comes in two main variations – single and double – the double flap version has an extra interior flap. This interior flap separates the interior of the handbag from the main exterior flap. Beyond the practicality of the Chanel Double Flap’s multiple pockets to organize one’s daily essentials, a playful anecdote has long been rumored around the history of these compartments – Chanel purse loyalists say that Coco Chanel would hide her love letters in the zip pocket located underneath the handbag’s outer flap. Each Classic Double Flap bag is handcrafted at the Ateliers de Verneuil-en-Halatte, one of Chanel’s prized Metiers d’Art workshops. The artisans at this shop have each trained for a minimum of four years, mastering every technique required to meticulously craft the Chanel Classic Double Flap, a process that takes a total of 15 hours and up to 180 operations. Almost thirty years later, and out of all the Chanel handbags on the market, the Classic Double Flap remains one of the most sought-after pieces ever crafted.

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The Mini Chanel Flap

The Chanel Mini Flap was released in 2010 and quickly became one of the most desirable variations of the timeless Classic Flap bag. The Mini Flap is the quintessential shoulder/crossbody bag and taps directly into the mini bag trend of present day. Importantly the Mini Flap is still large enough to carry your daily essentials. Over the years, the Chanel Classic Flap has been designed in a range of sizes, from Mini (16.5 x 14 x 6.5 CM) to Maxi (33 x 23 x 10 CM). The Chanel Mini Flap as the iconic CC turnlock, flap bag design and interwoven leather chain. The one obvious difference between the Chanel Mini Flap and the Chanel Classic line is lack of the double flap. The smaller size and absence of a second flap allows for a more attainable price point. This highly desired style is almost always sold out at boutiques around the world. The Mini Flap bag is an undeniable craze among Chanel bag lovers, and shows no indication of leaving the spotlight.

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The Chanel 19 Flap

Named after 2019, the year it debuted, the Chanel 19 bag quickly rose to collector status. Unveiled in March 2019 for the Fall/Winter 2019 collection, the Chanel 19 was the last major handbag designed by Karl Lagerfeld before he passed away in February 2019. In a collaborative effort, Largerfeld and Virginie Viard – Chanel’s current creative director – reimagined and paid tribute to the iconic Chanel 2.55 bag. The Chanel 19 also takes inspiration from the Classic Flap, Karl Lagerfeld’s first homage to the Chanel 2.55. The Chanel 19 bag is more casual than the classic flap due to slouchier construction and three chunky chains in silver, aged gold and ruthenium. The bag also has a gold chain top handle and exaggerated diamond quilting. The updated design is casual and chic but remains true to the classic flap and the 2.55 flap.

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