In 1929, Coco created the first Chanel Flap Bag. As it was crafted out of jersey (a material that was then primarily used to make men’s underwear), her design peaked everyone’s interest. Once again, Coco had proven that the line between menswear and womenswear was actually quite fine.
Following her exile from fashion after WWII, Coco decided to celebrate her return by updating the Chanel Flap Bag. At the time, women only carried their bags by hand, clutching them or looping their wrists through the straps. Tired of always fumbling with and misplacing hers, Coco made the chain straps on her design longer. In February 1955, Coco introduced the first shoulder bag for women, naming it the Chanel 2.55 Flap Bag (after its release date). Making it socially acceptable (and fashionable!) for women to carry their belongings hands-free, it was a revolutionary design.
Not only famous for its shoulder-length straps, Coco included many other details that have since become iconic. She quilted the exterior material (to resemble the jackets her equestrian friends wore), stitched on an exterior pocket (to store her cash for tipping), secured its exterior flap with a simple, rectangular lock (since dubbed the Mademoiselle, as Coco never married), hid a pocket in its interior flap (so she could secretly store her love letters), and lined it with burgundy leather (to match the uniform she wore as a child at the orphanage). Each element of the Chanel 2.55 Flap Bag shares Coco’s personal story, uniting its carriers to her in an intimate way.
When Karl Lagerfeld was appointed creative director, he re-released the style as the Chanel Classic Flap Bag. While Lagerfeld kept most of its original details in homage to Coco and the house’s heritage, he did make some modernizing changes. In 1984, he replaced the Mademoiselle lock with the ‘CC’ logo turn lock, branding the Flap Bag and making it more recognizably Chanel. Lagerfeld also began to offer it in different sizes. (Today, the Flap Bag can be purchased in Extra Mini, Mini Rectangular, Mini Square, Small, Medium, Jumbo, and Maxi.) Around six years later, in the ‘90s, Lagerfeld removed its smaller interior flap, freeing up space in the Flap Bag’s main compartment for extra belongings. This re-design was referred to as the Chanel Single Flap Bag.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 2.55, Karl Lagerfeld re-issued it (literally calling it the Chanel Reissue Flap Bag) in February 2005. To keep it as true to the original as possible, he brought back the Mademoiselle lock and offered it in just three traditional colorways.
Upon its initial release, the Chanel Flap Bag cost approximately $220. A symbol of status and elegance, its value has since significantly increased. Chanel is now one of the most expensive luxury fashion brands, continuing to raise its prices by two to ten percent every few months. In hopes of scoring a vintage Chanel Flap Bag at a more affordable price, many have turned to resale. Shop our collection of pre-owned Flap Bags, so you can get the look for less.
At The Vintage Bar, we do our best to keep every style in stock, but make sure to check out our pre-owned Specialty Flap Bags. From Chanel’s off-season runways (like Cruise and Métiers d’ Art), they are especially rare and limited edition, making them the ultimate vintage find.