Short History of The Famous Chanel 2.55 Bag

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Like I promised in an earlier article, here is the story of Chanel Reissue 2.55 handbag.

It caught my attention because I’m very fond of things that have their little piece of history. It makes them sort of ‘alive’ with a personality of their own (one of the reasons I’m a vintage hunter myself).
Here it comes:

Chanel 2.55 and Reissue Bags

The 2.55 handbag bears that particular name simply because it was originally issued in February 1955. Her features have all a piece of tale to tell. From the inside out:
• The lining – The lining’s burgundy color represents the color of the uniforms from the convent where she grew up.
• The inside compartment – there’s a zippered compartment on the inside of the front flap. That’s where Coco Chanel hid her love letters (from her lover at the time).
• The backside – there’s a back outside flap on the handbag – that’s where Mademoiselle Chanel stashed extra money.
• The shoulder strap – as I said before, Coco Chanel grew up in an convent, at the orphanage. The caretakers hold the keys at their waist dangling from the same type of chains as the 2.55 shoulder strap chains.
• The front lock – the 2.55 front lock is different from the classic double CC logo. Its logo is called “the Mademoiselle Lock” (because Coco Chanel was never married)

Chanel 2.55 Details
Karl Lagerfeld who took over Chanel in 1983 reissued the 2.55 in February 2005. His version is the exactly the one designed by Coco Chanel back in 1955.

The Reissue was made in commemoration to the 50th anniversary of the original 2.55 and the name “Reissue 2.55” should apply only to those commemorative handbags.
Instead, it’s commonly used now as a name for all the handbags resembling the original 2.55. As for those with CC interlocking, they’re called Classic Flaps.

Loved it too? When I’ll come across stories like that, I’ll share them with you!

5 ways to wear the Chanel quilted bag

5 ways to wear a Chanel quilted bag

Many legends circulate on the subject of the Chanel 2.55, sifting through them and discerning which is which can be both fun and disconcerting: they say that Coco Chanel wanted to ease the high society’s ladies life by freeing their hands with shoulder hanged bags. It’s said that although common for the working class, the luxury circles dames had to carry their bags in their hands and not practically hanging from their shoulders. Carrying a bag can be a difficult task when you’re joggling champagne glasses, theater fliers and tasty canapés.

Coco Chanel Chanel 2 55 bag

Coco Chanel and her legendary Chanel 2.55 bag

Chained straps were added to the Chanel bag in question, with interwoven leather as the legend goes that Coco didn’t have too many resources on her hands at the time. Her childhood convent memories were braided with the design inspiration from ailleurs as the now-iconic quilted upper of the handbag is reminiscent of the jockeys jacket (Coco was a big fan of horse racings).

chain straps of the 2 55 Chanel bag

different chain straps of the Chanel 2.55 bag

See also: Interesting design of the latest Chanel bags straight from the catwalk!

Chanel 2.55 making process

they say that only a woman artisan can give the right shape to the Chanel 2.55 bag and after the making, the quality control process is an unbelievable succession of tests kept unchanged by Lagerfeld. The color, attachments, stitching, and wear resistance, UV and cracking resistance, waterproofing are carefully inspected. Resistance to heat and humidity are tested by placing the bag for a 72 hours period in a room with 95% humidity and 140F/60℃.

how it s made Chanel Bag 2 55

Chanel 2.55 label

aside from the style code of the bag (the 2.55 Reissue size 226 style code is A37587 while the 227 size has another style code A37590), the label has three more characters like in the picture below standing from the season (A – for autumn or ‘automne’, S – for summer, P – for spring or ‘printemps’, C – for cruise) and two numbers for the year of the making (the example picture below reads 09P which means that the bag was made for the 2009 Spring collection).

Chanel 2 55 bag label meaning

price tag of the Chanel 2.55

Chanel 2.55 price

the iconic status of the Chanel 2.55 bag is also visible from the price tag. Over the last 5 years, the prices have doubled and they’re subject to bi-annual increases. The label above should give you a hint about the cost of a legend.

Chanel 2 55 bag vs other Chanel bags

Chanel 2.55 Mademoiselle Lock vs the classic interlocked CC Chanel bag closure

Chanel 2 55 bag various finishes

See also: $10,000 Chanel clutch, a Star Favorite!

UPDATE: For an easy visual reference of the main differences existing between the Chanel Classic Bag and the Chanel 2.55 Reissue Bag, I put together a simple infographic with the data and the respective images of the two handbags.

difference between Chanel Classic bag and Reissue 255 bag

An actual vintage Chanel 2.55 bag as designed by Gabrielle Coco Chanel in the early 1930s (as seen below) should have these exact references. Be aware that most sellers and/or fashion media outlets have their stories mixed up and don’t always know the real facts. Be sure to check twice before making such an iconic purchase!

original Chanel 255 bag vintage designed by Coco Chanel 1930


#1 Raffaella on 08.26.08 at 1:07 am

The Chanel 2.55 is as stylish today as it was 50 years ago.I love this handbag!I patiently await the day that i will be able to have one for myself.

#2 Kiki on 10.24.08 at 12:44 pm

The 2.55 was based on a design by Germaine Guerin. Read The Chanel Century in Vogue May 2003…

#3 Sue on 02.03.09 at 11:16 am

I just bought a 2.55 to day , It`s so beautiful !
skip a night out, or 15 :) and u might pamper u`r self with one as well :)
Sweet story !

#4 ithandbag on 11.01.09 at 12:52 am

Love Chanel 2.55,very classic and never fall

#5 Joyce Briegel on 03.22.14 at 10:27 am

How do you know if it is a classic chanel purse or a reissue?

#6 kpriss on 03.25.14 at 1:30 am

Joyce, I added a last picture / infographic compiling the main differences between the two bags. I hope it helps?

#7 Joyce on 04.25.14 at 1:10 pm

curious to know the price of the original bag in 1955.

#8 Tosha on 10.02.14 at 10:59 pm

Can someone please help me! I have a CC purse and don’t know how to tell if it’s real or fake. Thank you :)

#9 Anne on 07.27.15 at 10:29 pm

Dear Cecilia! I’ve got eight 2.55’s, six of them made before 1970. All of these, of course, with the mademoiselle lock. But I wonder – the first 2.55, was it made in leather or jersey or another material? And the chain, was it made with or without leather interwowen?

#10 kpriss on 07.29.15 at 2:23 am

Hi Anne! congrats on the fabulous collection you got yourself there! May it grow bigger and better with every year!
To my knowledge, the first 2.55 had an all-plain chain, no leather. However, as far as the fabric goes, I’m inclined to say leather, but I’ll keep looking and will let you know if I come across another information about the original Chanel 2.55!
Thank you for stopping by!

*update – I added a picture of an actual vintage Chanel 2.55 – you were right, Coco did make her 2.55 from another material, not leather but quilted wool fabric – I crossed referenced the information with pictures of Gabrielle Chanel from the 30s and the 40s and she was indeed carrying a handbag in a deeply contrasting fabric, matte, unlike leather!

#11 Tracy d walker on 03.08.16 at 3:50 pm

Im search for the two tone lite pink fuchsia pink chanel bag shown above, I’m also search for the lite and or dark denim bags please direct me on where i can purchase them all. Ive had one designer purse in my entire life time and I’m in the market for another one and I’m choosing chanel. Thank you sincerely Ms Walker.

#12 Alexandra on 05.02.16 at 12:02 pm

My grandmother gave me a vintage 1950’s-60’s 2.55 bag a few days ago and I am trying to find as much information as I can about this particular bag. Would you have an email address I could send some photos to?

#13 Salin on 10.20.19 at 6:07 pm

I may have a 1040’s Chanel on hand. Please if anyone can help me identify and authenticate, that would be great.

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