Chanel is a brand with a rich and joyful history that reaches all the way back to 1910, when Gabrielle Chanel opened her first hat shop, Chanel Modes, in Paris. The story of the quilted Chanel bag begins much later, in 1955, but between the opening of Chanel Modes and the launch of the 2.55 bag Gabrielle Chanel found tremendous success in perfumes, jewels, and tweeds. Although the 2.55 is one of the most recognizable Chanel pieces it is not what put Chanel on the map. Chanel was already a sensation by the time GIs lined up at its door to bring French perfume back to their girlfriends and wives.
The 2.55 bag was released in February, 1955. True to her simplistic elegance Gabrielle Chanel named the bag after the date of its conception. The 2.55 bag was revolutionary, but not for the readily recognizable quilting. Rather, it was the chain shoulder strap that put it on the map. In the 1950s shoulder straps on bags were largely regarded as low class, yet Gabrielle Chanel was able to see around the stigma associated with straps to the reality: they offered convenience that women of all social stations would embrace. So, she dreamed up a bag with a sparkling gold chain that screamed bling, rather than bargain bin.
Gabrielle Chanel's assessment of the need for a strapped bag for the upper class was spot on. Before long the bag was on the arm of every golden era trend setter. But, what she could not have anticipated is the bags continued popularity nearly years after its release. In response to 90s fashionistas feverishly hunting for 2.55s Chanel re-released the bag in 2005, bringing it a new generation of glitter girls and post-preps.
Since the original 2.55 bag was released the quilted herringbone pattern has been featured on Chanel products ranging from cosmetics, to jewelry, to leather goods. Next to the double C logo, it is the second most recognizable Chanel symbol. Today, quilted herringbone patterns are widely used by many brands hoping to catch a bit of the Chanel luster, but there's nothing quite like the original, is there?