Bag Design: a journey inside every woman's best friend
The story of the handbag is a tale of manual skill, beauty culture, craftsmanship precision and material selection; but above all, it is a story that speaks of style. These are the essential ingredients for making what to many may seem a banal accessory, but which thanks to manual skill and the art of traditional leather goods becomes a true objet d'art.
The handbag is today an immovable icon in the fashion world: the accessory that no woman can do without, which over the last fifty years has become a true status symbol, a sign of style that reflects a woman's personality and the self-image she wants to show the world.
History of the handbag: the queen of accessories
The term bag was coined at the beginning of the 20th century and was used to refer to leather handbags for men; it was the 1920s that saw the birth of the modern handbag for women, a period in which the world of women's clothing also changed, more snug-fitting and lighter clothes, not predisposed to the presence of pockets. Handbags grew in importance as fashion accessories, until 1950, when designers named the precursor articles of the bag design modern, some of which are still the most sought-after classic models such as the Hermes Kelly bagnamed after Grace Kelly, who was a great favourite of this model from the French maison.
How a haute couture bag is born
The master craftsmen who made the history of the bag still guard the secrets of leather processing, committed to preserving and handing down an ancient and precious knowledge. Many of them have been involved in preparing and cutting leather for decades, and with their watchful eyes and even a few tools, they unearth irregularities of thickness, a slight mark or that shadow of colour that the less knowledgeable would miss.
Before cutting, there is the design that starts with the sketch from which a cardboard template is created; after approval of the shape, the paper pattern is made; finally, in the workshop, the skins are cut, strictly by hand and with scalpel-like tools. A series of steps then finish the edges, which are glued and reinforced with silk thread; everything is painted and buffed, with sandpaper discs that perform the miracle of making the ribs shiny and smooth. Final touches and here is the addition of the metal parts, fasteners, padlocks and buckles.
The birth of a myth: the Chanel 2.55 bag
La Chanel 2.55 is a creation by French designer Coco Chanelnamed after the month and year of its creation, namely the February of 1955.
In 1955, Coco Chanel set herself the goal of inventing a new type of handbag that would meet the needs of the modern, active and dynamic woman: it had to be an elegant yet practical and functional accessory as opposed to the uncomfortable hand clutches that women were previously obliged to wear on formal occasions and that tied up their hands. So it was that on a matelassé handbag (Chanel's classic diamond stitching) he added a practical adjustable chain, allowing women to wear it on the shoulder or over the shoulder. The very first models were made in jersey, the same fabric used by mademoiselle to create her suits.
In 1983, twelve years after the death of Coco, Karl Lagerfeld became the creative director of the Chanel maison and wanted to make a restyling of the 2.55, adding a long, thin strip of leather between the links of the chain that made up the shoulder strap. He also changed the rectangular mademoiselle lock to the double C lock, the maison's distinctive logo. La Chanel 2.55 It encapsulates a bit of the history of the designer who invented, designed and made it, a small masterpiece of French leather goods and style, still loved today by women all over the world.
You want to study the history of the stock exchange and becoming a bag designer? Discover the Master in Bag Design by Italian Design Institute.