While countless trends have come and gone in the dynamic fashion industry, certain handbags have maintained their desirable reputation through the decades. Their value is usually uplifted by influential celebrity associations, timeless designs and fashion-forward reimaginations that match contemporary needs.
Many of the following classics are limited editions, refrain from advertising to maintain exclusivity and many make for a good investment. As coveted now as they once were, here are some classic handbags that will never go out of fashion.
The House of Chanel always defined grandeur and allure at its best with founder Coco Chanel leaving her high-fashion legacy as an endless reference for style. Named after the month and year of its creation (February 1955), Chanel 2.55 Flap Bag was released by Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel herself, who commenced a handbag revolution that finally enabled women to carry their glamourous storage units hands-free.
This timeless piece was made out of quilted leather inspired by jockeys’ padded riding jackets, a distinctive lock and its signature shoulder chain strap. The Classic Flap with the iconic CC logo replacing the former’s rectangular lock was first recreated by Karl Lagerfeld when he took over as Creative Director in 1983 and has since become another staple of the house.
In February 2005, Chanel re-released the 1995 classic version to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original.
This Gucci bag was first introduced in the 1950s as the Constance. In the 60s, this distinctive curved half-moon hobo bag was much loved by First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis and she also used it to shield herself from paparazzi. Just as famous photographs of her sporting this slouchy Gucci asset started circulating amongst the press, the bag’s popularity catapulted to a new dimension altogether.
It was officially renamed after her in 1961 and soon became a 1970s fashion staple but faded away from 1980’s Gucci collections. The bag saw a revival under creative directors Tom Ford, in 1999, and Frida Giannini, in 2009. For Fall/Winter 2020, Alessandro Michele revisited the design and making it available in different colours and sizes.
Recently, the world witnessed celebrities like Harry Styles and Kaia Gerber carrying the different designs of the Jackie bag.
This one was a staple in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Spotted on sporty fashionistas, the classic silhouette added an athleisure vibe, which wasn’t even a thing yet, to every ensemble.
Launched in 1984 by Miuccia Prada, this icon paved the way for Prada’s signature use of industrial-weight nylon, also used in Army tents, in its accessories. While high-end handbags focused on elegance, this cult item was more about effortless casual look and was also found being carried by many 90s supermodels. Even today it’s cherished for its highly functional interior and suitable-for-work design. And, it is Kourtney Kardashian approved. Do we need to say more?
This one aptly fits a brunch nearby aesthetic. If there was one bag that Carrie Bradshaw was more loyal to it was the cute Fendi Baguette. In one episode of the show Sex and the City, while Bradshaw is getting robbed, she indignantly informs the mugger that her purple sequinned Fendi is not simply a bag, “It’s a Baguette.”
A compact and stylish bag, easily recognisable by its signature design, curved straps and trademark logo hardware, debuted in 1997. Designed by Silvia Venturini Fendi, this bag got its unconventional name by being the perfect size to fit snugly under the arm, just like the long and thin French bread baguette. This elegantly minimal model boosted Fendi’s reputation from just another lavish designer to a commercial genius releasing over 1,000 versions of the bag.
Since its inception in the 1930s, Louis Vuitton’s monogram printed bag has redefined everyday style with great elegance and comfort. Once touted by fashion icon Aubrey Hepburn, the Speedy 25 soon acquired iconic status. First launched as similarly shaped but a larger Keepall in sizes 30cm, 35cm and 40cm respectively, LV soon introduced a compact version customised to Hepburn’s preference and the growing consumer demand.
Aptly named after its sleek portable nature, its popularity never saw a downfall since the 1950s. Though the classic Speedy seems irreplaceable even today, the signature model is available in a wide variety of sizes, materials and colours now.
Birkin’s breakthrough moment in pop culture took place with an appearance in Sex and the City (2001). Since then, the bags have dominated fashion magazines and graced the arms of the likes of Victoria Beckham, Lindsey Lohan and Melania Trump.
This status symbol was inspired by and created for an English-French supermodel, singer and actress Jane Birkin in the 1980s. It all started in 1981 when she had a chance to share a flight with Hermès Chief Executive Officer Jean-Louis Dumas. Noticing her struggle and frustration of not being able to fit all her stuff in a bag, he sought to design the perfect carryall bag. Three years later, Birkin, the bag, happened.
Since its 1984 launch, the prices have been increasing 14.2 percent per year on average. This bag is said to be a better investment than stocks or gold. Its production is also tightly controlled to add an unobtainable element to an already limited edition. With a collection that’s available in different leathers, sizes and colours, the fashion elite is unmissable because of its top flap over buckle loops. Each piece also comes with its specific number-coded locks and keys.
An instant favourite of one of the most photographed women in the world, this one takes the top spot as one of the most recognised Dior bag designs. Gifted to Princess Diana in 1955 by First Lady of France Bernadette Chirac, a signature topstitched ‘Cannage’ motif in a diamond pattern forms the identity of this timeless product. It is said to be inspired by the cane work of Napoleon III’s chairs on which guests would sit at Dior’s haute couture shows.
This plush quilted leather classic with complementary metal alphabet charms in a rich gold tone became an immediate hit. Originally introduced as ‘Chouchou’, which means favourite in French, it was renamed as Lady Dior in honour of the Princess of Wales and remains the brand’s one of the most coveted pieces ever. Many reinterpretations have been introduced in an array of sizes, colours, materials and one of them has even evolved into an art project.
Le Pliage in French means ‘folding’ which is in sync with the bag’s envelope-like trapezoidal shape. Inspired by the Japanese art of Origami, this lightweight and durable tote was designed by the son of Longchamp founder, Philippe Cassegrain. It is available in a range of prints and colours reimagined in over 150 varieties.
The 1993 original fold-up design comprised Russian leather handles, nylon canvas body and an embroidered signature logo of a jockey on a horse which represented the much-revered racetrack in Bois de Boulogne, Paris. Offering customisation options, the brand has sold more than 32 million pieces in over 1,000 stores to date. Though many renowned women like Kate Middleton, Miley Cyrus and Alexa Chung have been seen carrying Le Pliage, the tote is meant for unisex consumption.
Launched in 2001, this collectable quickly became a hit as it attracted many ‘It’ girls of the decade. The style inspired by a motorcycle jacket with its zip detailing and studs came into being at the hands of the then creative director Nicolas Ghesquière and originally execs didn’t think it would work. Their minds changed when model Kate Moss requested one from Ghesquière after a show.
A unique feature in this model like no other Balenciaga number is the absence of a brand logo and yet it’s instantly recognisable. The brand’s other coproducts have the logo bold in front and centre.
The Pouch was one of the trendy accessories spotted a lot around the 2020 New York and Copenhagen Fashion Weeks. The dumpling-esque buttery soft clutch comes in plain leather and is very popular in its tan and bold colour ranges. The high-quality leather features a high-fashion folding detail, a nice sheen and is satiny soft upon touch.
Ever since British designer Daniel Lee took over this Italian heritage house as a creative director, he has delivered everything exceptional. And when he revived this clutch design, it took only a few moments to trend all over Instagram. Model Rosie Huntington-Whitley and actress Salma Hayek have been seen flaunting this It bag.