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Perhaps it's the luxe sheen of quilted lambskin, the tactile quality of tweed, or the instantly recognisable chain handle, or the iconic CC logo - Gabrielle Chanel had a fine eye for the accessory, creating the highly desirable 2.55 handbag in response to women's desire for independence. She wanted the Chanel bag to have an irreproachable aesthetic, be practical, yet comfortable - to be every woman's perfect companion, which Karl Lagerfeld has seen through season after season. For every Chanel bag, a precise inspiration, clever and justified details. This is the bag by Chanel, step by step, by way of a glossary.
Allure. The title of Paul Morand's famous book, The Allure of Chanel, and a key word in the values of the House, which hover over every Chanel bag. When Gabrielle first created a bag, it was initially to liberate her gestures and those of all women. A question of practicality but also allure, movement as well as attitude. A bias that denotes a silhouette and a way of wearing that can be appropriated according to one's mood and needs: a handle, a strap, left long or doubled up to tuck the bag in to where the waist just begins, hanging down the length of the body or worn across it. Allure is also a question of lines and proportions, worked with graphic rigour and devoted to comfort, without compromise, for every moment throughout the day: the suppleness of a sports bag or a backpack, the clean geometry of a day bag, the curve of a saddlebag, the elegance of a minaudière…

Ateliers in Verneuil-en-Halatte. This small town, north of Paris, in the Oise, is where the Chanel bags are made. Highly experienced craftsmen work in a unit of five production ateliers. Their training takes up to four or five years, the time required to perfectly master all the manufacturing techniques. Here, giving life to an iconic bag can take 15 hours of work and more than 180 precise operations and gestures, all overseen with a quality control.
2.55 bag. True to form, Gabrielle Chanel created the 2.55 bag because she herself needed it. In February 1955 she imagined a bag with a timeless beauty, with an interior as cleverly designed as the exterior, as beautiful inside as out. Worn on the shoulder thanks to a strap intermingling chain links and ribbons of leather, or a flat linked chain, the 2.55 liberated not only the hands, but also harmoniously followed every movement made by the body. On the outside, lambskin, jersey and silk are stitched with a diamond quilting, inspired by the world of horses so dear to Mademoiselle Chanel. More than a classic, the 2.55 is an icon. A genuine stylistic rupture, the initiator of a new gesture, liberating and modern, it is a concentration of dreams, history and luxury meticulously fashioned, step by step.

11.12 bag. A reinterpretation of the 2.55 bag, imagined by Karl Lagerfeld on his arrival at Chanel, it differs from the 2.55 notably with its double C clasp and its metal chain interlaced with leather. The 11.12 bag, also known as the "classic bag" is one of the iconic bags of the House.

Backpack. Under the impetus of Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel has added a resolutely urban approach to its collections, while extending the spirit of outdoor life so loved by Gabrielle Chanel. In the 1990s, the designer proposed backpacks in his accessories collections. But since the 2010s this design has become a truly recurring element: mini or maxi, straps accessorised with chains, in denim, leather or embossed nylon, embroidered, graffitied or quilted, it has achieved serious recognition, moving seamlessly from the realm of sportswear into luxury and fashion.

Left to right: Chanel 2.55 handbag, a Boy Chanel handbag,
a 11.12, or Classic handbag
Top to bottom: Chanel 2.55 handbag, a Boy Chanel handbag, a 11.12, or Classic handbag
Bag jewellery. At Chanel, no one talks about the "metalware of a bag". The chains, the clasps and every other metallic element are united under the name of "bag jewellery". An expression that denotes a Chanel bag as a true fashion creation, it is a "couturier" bag not typical "leather worked" bag. This characteristic was established by a pioneer of fashion and accessories who was already using these ornaments in her finery and costume jewellery.

Boy Chanel. Launched by Karl Lagerfeld in Fall-Winter 2011/12, it instantly made an impression with its distinguished and unique appearance. The bag leans towards an androgynous elegance with its clean lines, rectangular flap, its large link gourmette chain and graphic clasp. Available in several sizes, mini and maxi, it can be worn long or short, each time affirming its boyish charm. Three major stages led to the birth of Boy Chanel: the realisation of the body including the frame and the inlay which cover the back of the bag up to the flap, that of the lining, and the addition of the chain and clasp.

With this bag, Karl Lagerfeld reintroduced Gabrielle Chanel's love story with Arthur Capel, affectionately known as "Boy", and all that he inspired in her. Probably begun in 1907, their love affair ended tragically in 1919 when Boy Capel was killed in a car accident. "Chanel took jersey, the fabric used for men's underwear to make dresses, she had that attitude, it's the very spirit of Chanel even. She stole that from Boy Capel, the great love of her life…"

Bucket bag. Present in the collections since the 1980s, its classic line has been swathed in many different materials over time. Tightened with a drawstring, lengthened with a strap and sometimes held with a handle, the bucket bag also comes in a high and rigid form.

Burgundy. When Gabrielle Chanel first conceived her bag in 1955, her main objective was to make it practical for her and all women. A lining in a contrasting colour, to make finding one's belongings easy, struck her as essential. It also guaranteed that the bag, like each one of her creations, would be as beautiful inside as out. Originally in a raspberry red, it gradually adopted a more burgundy hue.
Calfskin. Along with lambskin, this is the key material used for Chanel bags. The Tanneries Haas are Chanel's partner for calfskin. Glazed or aged, smooth or quilted, calfskin dresses all the House classics, it comes in every colour and with every finish. When they arrive at the ateliers, each skin is meticulously checked: there must be no scratches and the grain must be regular.

Camera case. A rectangle with rounded corners, a central zip, an adjustable strap and an ultra-practical volume... Present in the Chanel collections since the 1980s, in leather, canvas, quilted or otherwise, the Chanel camera case brings an urban and elegant touch to this bag originally dedicated to the cameras of photographers and reporters.

Caviar. This fine rounded grain defines the singularity of the calfskin leathers used for the 11.12 bags among others. Elegant, feminine and resistant, it remains one of the favourite materials of the House, and one of the chicest.

The Chanel monogram, an inimitable and timeless seal, we find the CC on the metal clasp on the flaps of the bags and stitched inside on the coloured linings. This clasp was first introduced into the collections in 1973 and has been employed by Karl Lagerfeld since the 1980s. It differentiates the 2.55 bags from the classic 11.12 bags with which it is associated.

Chain. "Believe me, I know women, give them chains, women adore chains"*. Gabrielle Chanel chose chains for her bags to free up the hands of women. Since the first chain with metal links, other versions have seen the light of day, interlaced with leather or more imposing like the large gourmette chain of the Boy Chanel. In turn Karl Lagerfeld has added his vision and multiplied the number of chains for ever different ways of wearing the bags, larger or finer, in gold, silver or ruthenium finished metals.

*Extract from the book Chanel Solitaire by Claude Delay (Gallimard, 1983 p 276)
L-R: Clutch embellished with chains, Chanel bag with charms, a Chanel camera case
Top to bottom: Clutch embellished with chains, Chanel bag with charms, a Chanel camera case
Charms. A number 5 or a number 19, a rue Cambon plaque, the silhouette of Gabrielle, a perfume bottle… In metal, enamelled in colour or not, rhinestoned, simple or playful, mini or maxi, charms and amulets regularly constellate the flaps and straps of the Chanel bags. Highly superstitious, Gabrielle Chanel would insert little lucky charm symbols, crafted in metal by her costume jewellery and accessory makers, into her creations. We can see her in photographs from the late 1960s wearing a bag embellished with a sun in gold metal. Today they are a means of reinterpreting the powerful symbols of the House, which can be added and removed at will, all the better to appropriate them.

Chevron. The first appearance of the chevron quilting in the Chanel bag collections goes back to the 1960s: Mademoiselle Chanel used it for some of her designs, giving them a modern and graphic appearance. With a V-shape, also known as herringbone, this motif is inspired by the weave of men's tweed, considered to be indestructible. This previously unseen quilting was thrust back into the limelight with the arrival of the Boy Chanel. Its flap adopts this pure, clean and perfectly geometric graphic design that requires great precision in the cutting of the leather and the positioning of each inlay to ensure the lines perfectly follow each other.

Clasp. A piece of rectangular metal equipped with a tourniquet. A double C pierced with another tourniquet. These two clasps, named Mademoiselle for the first and CC for the second are the most loyal and most identifiable signatures of a Chanel bag.

Clutch. Gabrielle Chanel designed clutches for both day and night from the 1920s onwards, a time when this type of bag, born at the end of the 19th century, was just taking off. Pleated like a purse, flat like an envelope, hiding a strap or equipped with a handle, embroidered or quilted, in leather or fabric, it returns every season to accompany the evening dresses but also other styles imagined by Karl Lagerfeld.

Comfort. The notion of comfort is an underlying factor in of all Gabrielle Chanel's creations and can certainly be applied to the bag: a strap to leave hands free, quilted leather, pockets and burgundy interior to effortlessly find one's belongings… An exacting imperative that today remains incumbent to each one of the House's creations.

Couture. Gabrielle Chanel conceived her bags like a couturier and in doing so set herself apart from her leather-working contemporaries. Indeed, at the time of its creation, the use of jersey for a handbag showed real daring. Lambskin was also a bold choice because up until then this very supple and fragile material had only been used for glove-making. Gabrielle Chanel wanted the fabric and leather to be quilted, most often with lozenges: "You must stitch it all over, so that it holds". She reappropriated a traditional motif of the equestrian world she'd been frequenting since her years at Royallieu: the quilting featured on the stable boys' jackets, the saddle rugs and the blankets for added warmth and comfort. Finally, the metal elements that adorn the bag, the rectangular clasp and gold chain, reminiscent of the jewellery and adornments already very present in the stylistic world of Gabrielle Chanel. The 2.55 bag is a true fashion creation, imagined by a couturier.
L-R: large embossed nylon tote, a flap bag with chevron detailing,
a knit bag never looked this good
Top to bottom: large embossed nylon tote, a flap bag with chevron detailing, a knit bag never looked this good
Diversity. Whether it be the shapes or the materials, diversity signs the world of accessories at the House of Chanel. Tote bags, bucket bags or shoppers, hobo bags, iconic bags, saddlebags, camera cases and hip packs, bowling bags and backpacks, weekend bags, duffle bags, evening clutches and other minaudières, the creativity of Chanel is truly limitless. It is further amplified by the use of dozens of materials and colours, timeless or daring, ultra-modern, such as PVC for some of Chanel's Gabrielle bags or the flaps of classic bags, as well as denim, velvet, sequins, plexiglass, mother of pearl, crystals and even wood.
Embroidery. Reinvented each season, reinterpreted over the Ready-to-Wear collections, the Chanel bags are regularly adorned with precious and sophisticated embroidery. Developed in collaboration with the House of Lesage and the Montex embroidery atelier, they will adorn a flap or the whole bag. All the techniques of this craft are summoned upon: needle, Luneville hook, the Cornely chainstitch and many others that allow for the stitching of beads, sequins, threads, woven tweeds and yet more embellishments composed of unique patterns, either original or inspired by the archives.

Emotion. The caress of the quilting, the sound of a tourniquet clasp, the opening of a bag to reveal its contents, the positioning of the chain on the shoulder… Wearing a Chanel bag provides a unique and very special emotion, a genuine pleasure reserved for those in the know and the lovers of a luxury that is authentic, timeless and never ostentatious.

Exotic. Precious exotic skins naturally have their place in the world of Chanel bags. In particular alligator, python and galuchat are worked over the main body of the bag or through details and inlays. These skins require a highly technical leather working knowledge.

Eyelet. A detail as stylistic as it is technical, through the eyelets slide the chains woven from metal and leather, and the gourmette chains or chains with simple links. A piece that joins the other components of a bag's jewellery rendering Chanel bags true fashion creations.
L-R: A Chanel bag in PVC, Chanel bags in different shapes and materials,
a top handle bag in precious alligator skin
Top to bottom: A Chanel bag in PVC, Chanel bags in different shapes and materials, a top handle bag in precious alligator skin
Fashion. Just as Gabrielle Chanel captured the zeitgeist and understood the needs of women, inspired by her own, Karl Lagerfeld seizes the desires of the moment and anticipates those of tomorrow thanks to his keen eye and ultra-connectedness. And of course, it's also desire and pleasure that preside over the birth of each new Chanel bag: having fun with sets of straps, shining with a minaudière as precious as a jewel, playing with previously unseen materials and the colours of the season, matching one's bag to a day outfit, seeing it as a natural extension of oneself… This is what makes a Chanel bag different: aligning style with fashion, seasons with timelessness. Always.

Finishes. Luxury is when the inside is as beautiful as the outside. This adage obviously applies to bags as well. The technical savoir-faire used for their production pays tribute to this. With a Chanel bag, the finishes are hidden or blend naturally into the leathers, it all appears so obvious, sometimes even as if born from one and the same gesture. Here the art of handcraftsmanship takes on its full meaning.

Flap. The one that's home to the clasp, that becomes a frame for quilting, an embroidery, weaving or a print. The one that hides the CC seal, stitched beneath. The one, that by its very essence, opens and closes a bag, just like a story.

Functionality. This is the very spirit of every Chanel bag. Answering a precise need, accompanying the lives of women by liberating their movements. Gabrielle Chanel wanted a functional bag with modular ways of carrying it. Practical, comfortable and aesthetic, nothing more, nothing less.
L-R: A large tote with multiple compartments for functionality, gorgeous finishing, the Classic flap bag
Top to bottom: A large tote with multiple compartments for functionality, gorgeous finishing, the classic flap bag
Chanel's Gabrielle. First presented during the Spring-Summer 2017 Ready-to-Wear show, this bag draws from the futuristic spirit of the collection and bears the name of the founder of the House. Karl Lagerfeld was inspired by the shape of virtual reality glasses, but also the binocular cases with a strap that men wore at the races. Chanel's Gabrielle bag possesses the aesthetic and practical spirit that characterises all Chanel bags. On a rigid thermoformed base, its body is extremely light and supple. Loyal to the endless search for comfort extolled by the founder of the House, it perfectly follows the shape of the silhouette. Its adjustable strap is accompanied by a double chain woven from leather and gold or silver metal. An originality that allows it to be worn in three different ways: straight over the shoulder, across the body or either side of the neck, like a sautoir or sweater slung around the shoulders. Its contrasting structure also keeps it perfectly upright when not being worn and allows women to put it down and find their personal belongings in an instant. Worked in aged quilted calfskin against a background of smooth calfskin, like the iconic 2.55, in all-over black or white, or two-tone black/white, navy/black and beige/black, the Gabrielle bag is available in its hobo shape in several sizes. Fastened with a zip finished with a CC jewel on a leather tab, the bag is held taught with the garnet fabric lining originally seen in the first bags made by Gabrielle Chanel.
Kaia Gerber in Chanel's 2018 Handbag Campaign, carrying the Chanel Gabrielle bag
Hip pack. Present in Karl Lagerfeld's collections since the 1990s, this bag is worn around the waist and comes in quilted leather, tweed, denim or nylon… The hip pack offers a street and sporty edge to the Chanel woman. With different ways of being worn (around the waist, worn across the body or simply thrown over the shoulder), it's another example of Karl Lagerfeld's humour and creativity.

Hobo. Present for several years in the Chanel bag collections, in 2017 the hobo adopted traits of Chanel's Gabrielle bag, created by Karl Lagerfeld. Its supple body fitted on a rigid base gives it optimal comfort and a generous volume.
Iconic. An epithet forever associated with Chanel bags. It was in the month of February 1955 that Gabrielle Chanel created an icon… The 2.55 was born. When the press spoke of the "famous Chanel bag", did the designer know it would traverse time, defying fashions to become a style icon? When he arrived at Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld reinterpreted the 2.55 bag, by creating the 11.12, with its double C clasp and its metal chain interlaced with leather. The 11.12 joined the family of icons.

Identity. There are numerous codes featured on a Chanel bag. The rectangular shape of course, the clasps, the chains and straps woven from leather and metal, and the diamond or chevron quilting. But also, the garnet lining and the incredibly particular "bag in a bag" method of construction. The Chanel bag is a symbol, one of transmission, of a taste for authentic luxury, true and with no need for artifice. It is both timeless and on trend.
Jersey. From 1913 Gabrielle Chanel was borrowing it from menswear to create her first lightweight and comfortable garments that she sold in her boutiques in Deauville and then Biarritz. Since then jersey has also been adapted for use in the bags: smooth or quilted, it brings with it a softness and patrimonial legacy for casual chic accessories.
Karl Lagerfeld. Since 1983, the designer has transcended the world of the House, the Haute Couture and Ready-to-Wear collections that he always presents in ever more astonishing decors, with accessories that are endlessly reinvented each season. After a new CC clasp, Karl Lagerfeld has been responsible for several new designs that have marked the history of the House: the Boy Chanel, the Girl Chanel, the Coco Cocoon line, and Chanel's Gabrielle to cite but a few. With every Ready-to-Wear, Cruise and Métiers d'art collection, he imagines brand new designs, infused with details and humour. Because that's the very strength of a Chanel bag: being endlessly reinvented, playing on the impulsive crush as much as the eternal love, transmission as a trend, decidedly a question of passion.
Karl Lagerfeld with Hudson Kroenig at the Chanel SS18 show
Lambskin. This leather, along with calfskin, is the fetish material for the classic Chanel bags. When Gabrielle Chanel first decided to use it, it was something of a revolution: delicate and very supple, up until then it had only been used for gloves. The origin of the skins is rigorously controlled; the House uses its historic partner, French tanner Bodin- Joyeux whose exceptional savoir-faire reflects the exacting standards of the House. Every skin must be perfect, without the slightest imperfection and only of an exceptional quality, meeting the strictest of specifications. They are inspected one by one and undergo numerous laboratory tests: notably for tensile strength, resistance against climatic conditions, friction and dyeing.

Lifestyle. Wearing a Chanel bag is like adopting a history, a philosophy that embodies freedom as much as a sense of practicality and aesthetics. Gabrielle Chanel always divised her creations according to her own life and needs, shaking up the codes and traditions. The straps and multiple pockets illustrate this desire for emancipation. Karl Lagerfeld is as much of a visionary, encapsulating the zeitgeist, he offers bags that are always more functional. He adds backpacks, sport and travel bags, telephone and tablet cases, bags with mini versions of themselves to be slipped inside. The Chanel bag is, and always has been, a bag with which one lives, tout simplement.

Lining. In a colour that contrasts with the exterior of the bag, and notably in red at the birth of the 2.55, it is stitched by needle with the famous double C. The lining (or bottom of the bag) of a Chanel bag is always made inside out, just like a garment: the different pieces composing it are sewn together, exactly like a second bag entering the bag. The two bags are then turned inside out, sewn with two point de bride and become one.

Luxury. Excellence in materials and savoir-faire. Careful details. Rigor of lines and construction conceived for optimal comfort and an unerring sense of practicality. Beautiful finishes and adornments. The luxury of a Chanel bag is as much about the exterior as the interior, adhering to Gabrielle Chanel's exactitude for hidden luxury and that it be as beautiful inside as out. It breathes timelessness, a precious object transmitted from generation to generation, destined to become burnished over time, as the guardian of a personal, often family, history. A Chanel bag is a one-of-a-kind luxury, precious yet designed for daily use, a companion to women and the keeper of their secrets. An iconic and eternal ally.
L-R: Chanel bag linings are always made inside out, a flap bag in lambskin,
a minaudiere from SS18
Top to bottom: Chanel bag linings are always made inside out, a flap bag in lambskin, a minaudiere from SS18
Minaudière. Gabrielle Chanel created these pieces for eveningwear from the 1920s. At that time cosmetics were being developed and she reacted to a woman's needs to take a compact and lipstick out with her. A rigid form, it soon came with handles or sometimes a removable strap for increased practicality. Karl Lagerfeld has since turned it into an essential accessory, that he playfully redesigns and transforms season after season into a collectable object: as a matryoshka, a shell, a N°5 perfume bottle, an egg box, a camera, a cotton reel, a robot, a cigar box, a rocket, a container, a lifebuoy, a pearl…
Novelties. The power and the difference of Chanel lies in the six annual collections that illustrate the endless creativity of Karl Lagerfeld; each season the designer imagines tote bags, backpacks, minaudières, bucket bags, evening clutches, trolleys, hobo bags…
Pearls. Gabrielle Chanel adored them and wore layers of them as sautoirs and other costume jewellery present in her collections from the 1920s. Karl Lagerfeld has been regularly adorning his bags with pearls since 1983, and even had fun creating a giant faux pearl as a minaudière for the Spring-Summer 2005 Ready-to-Wear collection.

Phone case. Anticipating the zeitgeist, pre-empting longings and desires. This is what Karl Lagerfeld does best. That's why as soon as the first mobile phones started appearing in the 1990s, he designed phone cases. This was naturally followed by cases for tablets in the collections of small leather goods.

Pockets. The score composed by Gabrielle Chanel for the 2.55 made them imperative. Seven of them to be precise. The first, on the back, is curved like "the smile of Mona Lisa", as it has been nicknamed in the ateliers, to evoke how hard it is to achieve and the subtlety of its shape. The six others are inside the bag: poches à soufflets to store business and credit cards or a compact, a case pocket specially conceived for lipsticks, the "secret" pocket, and not forgetting the large pockets designed for letters or other documents.

Point de bride. This small stitch might look like nothing, but it changes everything, uniting the interior with the exterior of a bag. It consolidates the general structure of a bag and must therefore be able to withstand everything.
L-R: Pockets for everything from lipsticks to secret love letters, a phone case, Gabrielle Chanel adored pearls
Top to bottom: Pockets for everything from lipsticks to secret love letters, a phone case, Gabrielle Chanel adored pearls
Quality. A concentrate of luxury, the iconic Chanel bag requires more than 180 manufacturing operations, just as many precise gestures - every step is sanctioned by a quality control - and can take up to fifteen hours to make in one of the five ateliers at the production unit just north of Paris. It takes four to five years for each of the artisans to perfectly master the techniques required for making an iconic Chanel bag.

Quality control. The Chanel bags are submitted to a multitude of tests before they arrive in the boutiques. The initial tests are carried out on the skins and the fabrics to measure their resistance to water, UV rays, friction and abrasion, also premature ageing in extreme weather conditions. During the development and production phases, the solidity and the durability of each bag are subjected to 3 tests: the picking up and set-down of a bag, the drop and hold of a bag and a simulation of accelerated usage. Wearing tests are also carried out over the period of a month. In the production ateliers the bags are inspected again once they have been completed, particularly when being wrapped. Finally, when they arrive at the distribution centre, a statistical check is made on each bag with the help of a sample bag and a control sheet.

Quilting. "You must stitch it all over so that it holds" the designer would repeat to her artisans. The lozenge quilting motif she reappropriated here derives from the equestrian world, and in particular the jackets worn by stable boys, the blankets and the saddle rugs. From the 1960s, she added the chevron quilting to her vocabulary. Two graphic motifs that have since become instantly recognisable signs and essential codes at Chanel. In Mademoiselle Chanel's own apartment, she had a fawn suede sofa scattered with cushions quilted like her bags.
Sailor's bag. From the 1910s Gabrielle Chanel's collections were often inspired by the uniforms worn by sailors (sailor blouses, striped knits, drop-front trousers…). This theme has regularly appeared in the collections of Karl Lagerfeld since 1983, and most notably in the Métiers d'art 2017/18 Paris-Hamburg collection. The sailor bag has naturally found its place in the world of Chanel bags, in canvas, felt, leather or tweed, embroidered or embellished with faux pearls, and fastened with a drawstring.

Strap. True to form, Gabrielle Chanel set down the innovative ideas inspired by her daily life and found solutions to her own needs. She appreciated the ease and freedom of movement offered by the straps on satchels and the binoculars she would wear at the races, allowing her to slip her hands into pockets - an attitude that was as liberated as it was determined. "Tired of holding my bags in my hands and losing them, I added a strap and wore them over my shoulder." She wanted hers to be an interlacing of chain and leather ribbons and would then conceive rows of flat metal links. It was an avant-garde vision of fashion and the lives of women constantly on the move, anchored in activity with a busy daily existence between their private and professional lives.

Style. A style, attitudes. Styles, an allure. The Chanel bag is more than just a fashion statement. It is a signature, a reflection of the personality of the woman who wears it. Whatever it may be, it never goes out of fashion, it traverses eras and generations, defying trends. It is the quintessence of style, untouched by time.
L-R: Chanel bags are impeccably made and subject to a multitude of tests before arriving in boutiques, a sailor's bag, manual braiding of the chain
Top to bottom: Chanel bags are impeccably made and subject to a multitude of tests before arriving in boutiques, a sailor's bag, manual braiding of the chain
Technique. To manufacture an iconic Chanel bag requires 180 operations at the Verneuil-en-Halatte Ateliers. After having chosen the perfect skin, every piece of the body of the bag is cut out with the help of a template demarcating the pattern. The cutter's mission is to find the ideal points of cutting so that each piece can be perfectly placed and connected once assembled. The operation can be particularly complex for an exotic skin or even for tweed (the patterns must be impeccably aligned). One by one, the pieces are then "split" or thinned, to avoid an eventual asperity caused by seams. Thus prepared, the pieces are ready to be quilted by needle (except for the exotic skins) and then assembled. Meanwhile, the double C will have been sewn under the flap. First mounted flat on the underside, like a piece of Ready-to-Wear, the bag gradually takes volume. Body and base come together using what is known as the " bag in the bag" technique: a first bag is mounted to make the interior then a second for the exterior. Both are assembled by hand. The artisan can then turn both bags the right way around. Sewn together using point de brides along the sides, the two bags are thus united and form a whole. The finishing touches (manual braiding of the chain, piercing the eyelets, inserting and positioning of the clasp) require a last few delicate operations before the final inspection and packing, the ultimate ritual of meticulousness and delicacy.

Timelessness. This is the very essence of a Chanel bag. Endlessly reinterpreted by Karl Lagerfeld over the collections to be part of the zeitgeist, the bags always go beyond fashion. "Not too much respect and a dash of humour are essential to the survival of a myth" says the creator. With him, jersey alternates with denim, exotic skins flirt with leathers, silk prints explode with colour, embroideries feature ever more strass and sequins, LEDs diffuse messages over the flaps of the bags… Every season since 1983, tradition has met with modernity, all in the name of fun and creativity.

Tweed. A solid fabric made from carded wool, originally produced in Scotland. Its name is a derivation of the Scottish word tweel, meaning a cross-hatched fabric, probably influenced by the River Tweed, that flows over the border between England and Scotland. An essential element in the Chanel lexicon, Mademoiselle Chanel was the first fashion designer to adapt it for women's wear from the 1920s. Just like leather and jersey, tweed is inseparable from Chanel bags. Matching the Ready-to-Wear silhouettes, it swathes the bags completely or appears as touches, occasionally as a patchwork. In his collections Karl Lagerfeld explores every possible variation of tweed in a spirit that is as innovative as it is timeless: woven, frayed, fringed, sometimes embroidered, he allows himself vast creative liberty with this fabric.

Two-tone. While black and white forms the most famous Chanel duo, open a classic bag to discover the House's first ever pas de deux in colour: black and burgundy. The first, black, symbolises Gabrielle Chanel's taste for understatement. The second, burgundy, must clash to help women find their belongings at the bottom of their bag. Other associations followed, with black always as the common thread, opposed with white, or combined with navy. A key word in the stylistic vocabulary of the House, Karl Lagerfeld reinvents the two-tone season after season in his collections.
L-R: A two-tone tote, Gabrielle Chanel's timeless style,
tweed on tweed in matching print
Top to bottom: A two-tone tote, Gabrielle Chanel's timeless style, tweed on tweed in matching print

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