The story behind Chanel's most iconic (and valuable) bag

chanel 2.55 bag
(Image credit: 2020 Christian Vierig)

Chanel may be serving up some covetable designer handbags this season, but if you want a solid investment, then the Chanel 2.55 bag is for you. In fact, it not only holds its value, but it increases significantly the longer you have it.

Money aside, it's a true classic in its own right, thanks to its signature quilted texture and 'mademoiselle' hardware turn lock.

So how did this iconic bag come to be? Given its timeless style, you might be surprised to hear that it's much older than you'd think, though granted, it has received a few updates in the past.

What is a Chanel 2.55 bag?

It was created by Gabrielle Chanel herself, back in 1955 (Karl Lagerfeld late re-imagined the style by launching the 11.12 when he joined the house in the 1980s).

The name itself refers to the month and date it was created (February 1955). It was revolutionary as before that, handbags designed for wealthy women were cumbersome and handheld, so not very practical at all.

So she decided to create a shoulder bag that was both classic in design and easy to carry hands-free, and it became acceptable for upper-class women to carry a handbag over their shoulders (of course there was much more of a class divide then).

The rectangular ‘Mademoiselle lock’ was designed by Coco herself, and the name refers to the fact the designer never married ('mademoiselle' is the equivalent of 'miss' in French). It was rectangular and logo free.

The iconic interlocking Cs hardware wasn't introduced until the 80s when Karl started designing at the house of Chanel.

Originally, the bag came with a burgundy interior, which was inspired by the colour of the uniforms Gabrielle Chanel and other children wore in the orphanage she grew up in.

How much is a Chanel 2.55 bag?

Bought new, you're looking at around £3,000 for the mini version of the style (it comes in different sizes), though the full size will set you back about £5,000.

If you'd like to invest in a vintage one though, depending on the condition and specifics of the bag, for example if it's fabric or leather, you could be forking out anything from £1,000 to £8,000.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.