October 28, 2008

CHANEL "2.55" x The Story Behind The Legendary Bag

Chanel's wellknown “2.55” takes its name from the month and year when Coco Chanel has launched the luxurious item: February 1955.

Coco Chanel's childhood and revolutionizing ideas in an authentic bag.

The burgundy lining that Coco herself placed in all black bags is a playful nod towards her old uniform at Aubazine School in the South of France.

The quilt is inspired by several sources: the stained-glass windows of the abbey at Aubazine, where Coco Chanel grew up, by jockeys’ riding coats as well as by Coco’s own light-brown suede cushions in her rue Cambon apartment in Paris.

The revolutionizing shoulder strap - previously found on soldiers’ bags and the heavy satchels female bicycle porters carried during the war - are made for woman in modern times.

Coco Chanel revolutionized fashion for women by using stretching materials in 1914/15 when she had the idea to use beige cotton knitwear of men’s underwear for the clothing of sportive ladies. This idea influenced fashion-designers of the following decades lastingly.

The shoulder strap

Coco realised the shoulder strap in a world of aeroplanes, cars, and busy lives when traditional hand-held bags were simply no longer practical.

As a result, the shoulder strap – previously found only on soldiers’ bags and the heavy satchels female bicycle porters carried during the war – made its debut in the world of fashion. Coco’s straps proved an absolute sensation. Two versions of the bag were produced: a lambskin model to be carried in the daytime, and an 
evening-wear design made of either silk or jersey, a material traditionally found in menswear, which Coco had introduced to ladies’ fashion in the 1910s. 

The quilt

Alongside N°5, the camellia, pearl necklaces and the little black dress, this criss-cross design has become one of the timeless symbols of the house of Chanel.

Good design lasts forever!

You can combine this bag with jeans as well as with a suit or evening gown. The Chanel 2.55 doesn't depend on seasonal trends. If you take care of the bag even your grandchildren can use it!

Over 30 new models are produced each year, forming part of the House’s seven annual collections. 6 to 15 people are working for up to 18 hours (depending on the material) on one Chanel "2.55". While in the past, up to 80% of all bags produced were black, they represent only 50% of the diverse range proposed today.

“We use a different shade of beige practically every time,” explains the responsible manager, “so things never get boring. Before any bag goes into production, the site’s development facility first finalises the details of the designs sent by Karl Lagerfeld’s studio.

Working from sketches, a range of hand-made mock-ups are produced before selecting a final prototype and deciding on its exact proportions and stitching details. This whole development stage is shrouded in mystery and usually takes around a week to complete. Then out of the 200 to 300 prototypes produced for each collection, the studio selects around 30.

The site’s archives hold nearly 3,000 different bags; together they map out CHANEL’s history. Lined up like trophies, these different models serve to inspire the design teams of today, as well as helping them to resolve any problems they might be having with the ideal shape of a handle or detail on a strap. Once the bag has been approved for production, a team of leather craftsmen, engineers and cutters will work on more than 10 different models every week to meet the demand from boutiques. However, before the bag can be assembled, the leather must first be prepared. It is cut from the skin either by hand, using a punch, or by computer, and is then machine-stitched, trimmed and finished. This is an extremely precise process, with all dimensions measured to within a fraction of a millimetre.

80% of the total production time is spent on the assembly table, where CHANEL’s master craftsmen use their expertise to produce an item of unmistakeable luxury. After the material has been prepared, the bag is given its structure by inserting heat-sealed leather-finished supports. Each bag is then turned inside out and back again, in keeping with Mademoiselle Chanel’s firm belief in the importance of hidden luxury: the inside should be as good as the outside. As a result, the same amount of care still goes into the lining of each bag as goes into its exterior.“

The bags are then quilted using machines specially developed by Chanel’s engineers, and this stage, though technical, is often one of the most creative in the design process, as can be seen on the series of models inspired by the stained-glass windows of the abbey at Aubazine, where Coco Chanel grew up. 

No comments: