a true classic


Photographer: Tommy Ton for Jak and Jil

I've been keeping an eye out for the perfect small-ish shoulder bag:

- it will hang from my shoulder to at least my bottom-most rib (bonus if strap is adjustable)
- it will be made of a soft leather in a neutral hue (I'm hoping for navy or camel)
- it should not be so glitzy that I can't use it for every day, but it should be dressy enough for a nice dinner
- minimal or at least, well-deployed hardware
- it will be structured, but not too stiff

My last factor is a bit vague: it should have a strong design identity/integrity. You see so many bags that could tick all the above boxes, but there's something generic about the design, as if they're all copying from each other, or something vintage.

I was at Chanel some time last year and on hindsight, despite it being extremely, extremely over-exposed (I was at a party full of girls carrying one, and you have to wonder if they were handing them out for free), the Chanel re-issue is still an amazingly distinctive piece of design. It's instantly recognisable (and not because of any logo), and no matter how many knock-offs there are, the charm and elegance of the original can't be beat. It has a strong design integrity. It came out and didn't look like anything else. The Louis Vuitton Speedy has it. The Loewe Amazona has it. The Hermes Constance has it. The Longchamp Pliage totes have it. The original Gucci Jackie hobo has it.

I didn't think the Chanel was very me, though I'd always found it very pretty. But when I actually tried on the re-issue in indigo navy distressed lambskin, I didn't want to put it down. It looks more discreet than you'd expect. And it was exactly the sort of day-to-evening bag that doesn't go out of style. I have a fetish for things that have remained largely unchanged since they were created but still look relevant and timeless, and this Chanel classic is definitely one of them.

The price is rather staggering for me, and I still can't quite square myself as a Chanel girl so I'm not putting this bag on my want list (yet), but as I continue to walk amid boring bag after boring bag, I have newfound respect for this enduring bit of design. I have been Internet-stalking another bag though, will share more on that some other time.

Also, how Maya Singer (shot by Tommy Ton) carries her Chanel is exactly how I'd like to carry one; without looking precious, and simply letting it be part of her, and not the whole outfit.


I also like this picture I found on Quiet is the new loud


Pictures from jak and jil, quiet is the new loud


Fleurette said…
Sounds like you're a Celine box bag-girl to me.. am I right? I'm saving up for that bag :P
S said…
Omg, I have fully come to realize that a navy Chanel reissue is my dream purse. When I went to Chanel recently, I didn't see the reissue in navy, but I've seen pictures of it and think it's just so divine. I told my stepmom to keep an eye out for one in consignment stores, although the chances of a navy one appearing is doubtful. But at $3400 new, I really won't be owning a new one anytime soon. More than anything, it is beyond the price threshold that my husband is comfortable with, so even though we can technically "afford" one, I cannot in good conscience buy it. I guess what I'm saying is, you should buy one, and I will live vicariously through you, lol.
S said…
oh, I forgot to add, I'd be curious if you find a good shoulder bag that meets the same checklist you described above for under $1000. I'm looking for a bag just as you described as well! Esp the day to night criteria.
0000 said…
I really like the way the bag is worn--I don't think I would have thought to wear it across the body like that. I wonder, though, if the chain might be too short for boxier outerwear? I also really love the Celine box bag and I've recently fallen in love with some vintage Ralph Lauren box bags with golden horse emblems on them. I guess I'm not as worried about the day/night transition, because I would probably carry a clutch to an evening event--I mainly just want to have a bag that leaves my hands free when I go grocery shopping!

Why don't you check out etsy for some bag ideas? I hate bag shopping in general, but sometimes you can find the quirkiest little gems on etsy without even trying!
miss sophie said…
excellent explication of the reasons why the Chanel flap bag has endured. everything else that's a flap/shoulder with any bit of hardware just seems rather derivative...and that's quite a feat after all these years! my classic flap is the loud AbFab cousin to your 2.55, but even with the hardware mine somehow manages to have a strong sort of elegance to it. curious - why the navy 2.55 and not the black? also - have you looked at luxury consignment/reseller shops? it is still going to be pricey given the demand for Chanel, but still will be a chunk less than the current (overpriced!) retail.
hannah-rose said…
I almost prefer the reissue to the 2.55, it's a little less branded and somehow more modern and versatile. but I agree with fleurette - it sounds like you're a celine box bag girl like the rest of us. Oh, it's my perfect bag. Now if only I can scrounge up the $5000 i need to own one..

Alex said…
I have loved the reissue for so long, I actually even saved up for it in 2007 but they didn't have the version I wanted in the Chanel store in paris at the time (black distressed lambkin with silver hardware) they only had patent versions. So I bought a different one which I recently sold. After all this time I still want the one I originally saved for.
I can really see it fitting in with your style from reading your blog, especially because of the distressed lambkin..
Anonymous said…
It is a forever classic yes, and very beautiful, but I actually prefere The celine classic box.
Anonymous said…
I also prefer the reissue to the 2.55. It's not as obvious because it doesn't have the two c's so it's a lot more understated and elegant if you ask me. Also, I LOVE the chain. It's so chic, yet edgy. And I love it when it's worn cross body in a casual, nonchalant style. It's on my list of ultimate bags to buy if/when I can afford it.-Helen
jennifer said…
Sigh, the 2.55 is indeed a gorgeous bag. I love how it can be luxurious and fancy, yet still laid back. You could probably wear it with anything to any event and it would look appropriate.

I also really like the Hermes Constance, but the big "H" is a little off putting. I also think the Constance would look better in Camel than Navy.
MarĂ­a said…
The 2.55 is a great bag but I find it too delicate for the everyday, especially the lambskin. You have to be very careful with it if you want it to last for long.
yanqin said…
Fleurette: I admire how the Box looks on many people, but I can't quite pull it off - it hangs awkwardly on me. It hovers at the back of my mind as an option but it's unlikely to work for me, to be honest. Good luck in working towards your goal!

S: I saw it in the shop last year and it was really the loveliest thing, but I'm not sure if it will be available in that colour again - it wasn't this season. I'll look out for that under-$1000 bag!

0000: etsy overwhelms me, haha. And those ralph lauren bags are really quite cool, they have swagger.

miss sophie: I like black too, but I love navy more. Black is classic but the navy really mad my heart skip and my mind dream. Consignment shops are rare here, and I never see the reissues, it;s easier to find the classic flap.

hannah rose: I wish I was a Box girl, but it hangs oddly on me. Plus I;m not fond of the compartments - my things never seem to fit the way I like them in such bags!
yanqin said…
Pret a Porter P: Thanks, Ive looked at the site and the selection is good! I'll certainly look out for the navy there. Nina's observation is so right - they really set the standard for bag design.

Alex: I can relate! I saved for one as well, but then in the end the thrifty working girl in me couldn't justify it, and I spent part of the money on a holiday and saved the rest. And now the price has gone up and it's insane. Silly me.

Susanna: I decided the Box wasn't for me after I tried it, but after so many recommendations I need to look at it again!

Helen: Agree, I love the chain too. Though it must be uncomfortable if the bag gets heavy.

Jennifer: I like the Constance too, but agree about the H. Actually the Celine box is just like the Constance, haha.

Maria: I hope the distressed lambskin is a little more low maintenance!

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