The Chanel 2.55 Classics and Reissues, my favourite colour being the one in ivory with gold chains.
What you put in your bag is very important to you…Traditionally, for a woman, a bag holds the things you need for the day, but it’s also your little beauty factory, which is very important to the identity of the woman. …the modern bag …by 1920, …became a symbol of women’s independence. It said she could go where she wanted to go, and didn’t need a man because he held all the possessions.
~ Farid Chenoune, author of Carried Away: All About Bags (2005)
Chanel bags have previously not appealed to me because I found the quilting too much mademoiselle. But I love bags with a story to tell and the Chanel 2.55 Classic quilted flap is one such bag. Launched in February 1955, hence its name 2.55, the quilted flap bag draws its inspiration into being, from many threads of Coco Chanel’s life, most of which came from the orphanage and convent, Aubazine in the south of France.
Coco Chanel wanted a bag that was hands-free, thus the double function of the chained handles to the bag, where one could wear the bag across the body or on the shoulder. The burgundy coloured lining in the original design for the black quilt flap 2.55s, came from the colour of Chanel’s school uniform at the Aubazine convent and the inspiration for the quilting came from several sources, including the stained-glass windows of the abbey at Aubazine, jockeys’ riding coats as well as her own light-brown suede cushions in her rue Cambon apartment in Paris. The open back pocket of the bag was where she stashed extra money and the zippered pocket was where she had her love letters. The original bags came with a Mademoiselle Lock because Chanel never married and the honorific mademoiselle was the custom. The bags with the interlocking Cs are today known as The Classic Flaps, whilst versions of the bag relaunched by Karl Lagerfeld in 2005/6 are known as Reissues. The Reissues have a twist lock without the Chanel logo on the outside.
As a result of the popularity of this bag, the Chanel quilted Classics are one of the items most copied by the fake designer goods industry. Several starting points for identifying an authentic Chanel Classic 2.55 would be:
i. the interlocking Cs of the logo has to have the RIGHT ‘C’ overlap the LEFT ‘C’ at the TOP and the left C should always overlap the bottom of the right C (there are only one or two exceptions to this in limited edition pieces from Chanel).
ii. the quilting on each Chanel bag should align, almost perfectly. This is the same feature found in authentic Louis Vuitton bags, that the LV logos should align perfectly at all seams on Louis Vuitton bags. Quilting at the back open pockets in the Chanel Classics for example, must seem to camouflage the back pocket, to make it as if it did not exist to the eyes. Quilting on the front flap from the flap to the body of the bag should also align perfectly, creating a ‘seamless’ quilted pattern, despite the front lock on the bag.
iii. all Chanel bags are either made in France or Italy, any stamping of manufacture elsewhere is a fake.
iv. Chanel uses flat head screws on their locks prior to recent years (ca. 2002ff), where today, they use the same or a similar 6-point star screw as do Louis Vuitton.
v. While Louis Vuitton uses an embossing method for their date codes, Chanel uses the hologram sticker that is likely to be destroyed if one tried to pry it loose from the base of the bag. These days, the hologram sticker contains a white sticker with the manufacture code, and a clear sticker over the white sticker. The clear portion of the sticker should contain gold flecks and it should have the words CHANEL CHANEL CHANEL to the right of the sticker and a solid black line to the left of the sticker. The sticker these days contains 2 Chanel logos, centered. Chanel also uses the number ‘1’ with a feet and has a slash through its number ‘0’.
I think the best giveaway feature to an authentic Chanel or Louis Vuitton bag is the quality of their make. This, one can feel by handling the bags themselves, observing the materials used and the stitching details on the bags. An authentic Chanel or Louis Vuitton bag will keep its shape even after years of wear, maturing and showing wear in a manner that is unreflected in a fake.
- Baillén, C., 1974. Chanel Solitaire.
- Charles-Roux, E., 1981, 2005. Chanel and Her World
- Galante, P., 1973. Mademoiselle Chanel.
- Koda, H., et al., 2005. Chanel.
- Madsen, A., 1990. A Woman of Her Own.
- Wallach, J., 1998. Chanel
A fuller publication list on Chanel can be found here.