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These 5 Iconic Designer Handbags Have Equally Iconic Backstories

From the iconic Fendi Baguette made famous by Carrie Bradshaw to the Louis Vuitton x Takashi Murakami multicoloured shoulder bag that was basically attached to every 00s celeb, every few years we'll collectively fall head over heels for a new It-bag that reflects and defines an era.
A handbag is so much more than a vessel for your essential items. While functionality is important (knowing where your phone, wallet and keys are at all times is a must), a handbag can make or break an outfit and say a whole lot about your personal style. And for good reason — they’re a bold symbol of style, status and, of course, appreciation for designer fashion.
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To fashion girlies, a handbag is a piece of art — and like all pieces of art, timeless designer handbags come with equally important backstories that provide context as to why they've achieved icon status.
If you’re currently in the market for an investment bag (scrolling eBay is a great place to start for high-quality, second-hand handbags, given they have an Authenticity Guarantee), then we suggest familiarising yourself with the backstories behind some of the most iconic handbags of all time for inspiration.

The Chanel '2.55'

The Backstory:

There aren’t many handbags with as much lore surrounding them as the Chanel 2.55. Named after the date it was created, the bag was allegedly designed with specific details of Coco Chanel's life in mind.
The quilted leather is said to pay homage to Coco's childhood love of horse riding, a time when quilted materials were worn by stablehands.
Similarly, the straps are said to have been influenced by horse harnesses (and Coco's frustration with having to hold purses), and the original burgundy colour referenced the colour of the Catholic school uniforms Coco wore.
It's also rumoured that the zippered compartment was created to conveniently store love letters.

What Makes It So Iconic?:

There is truly nothing more timeless than the quilted Chanel 2.55 bag — it could even be considered the quintessential bag of the fashion house. It's a symbol of effortless chic and will find a place in the wardrobes of preppy fashion worshipers forever. Released in February 1955, icons like Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor immediately took to it, and it has been carried by the likes of Miley Cyrus, Kate Moss and more.
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With the Coquette aesthetic (think ballet flats and ultra-feminine silhouettes) taking off on TikTok, the Chanel 2.55's elegance remains timeless.

The Hermès 'Kelly'

The Backstory:

The bag (originally known as the ‘Sac à Dépêches) was designed by Hermès' CEO Robert Dumas in 1930 as a refined take on the brand’s equestrian-esque saddle bags. 
The bag skyrocketed in popularity after Grace Kelly became associated with the bag — it was part of her character's wardrobe in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘To Catch A Thief’ — and subsequently fell in love with the style. Kelly continued to wear the bag for years after filming and famously used it to shield her growing baby bump from the paparazzi after marrying the Prince of Monaco. 
The bag was officially renamed the 'Kelly' in her honour in 1977. 

What Makes It So Iconic?:

The level of craftsmanship required to make a Kelly is wild. It takes up to 20 hours to make one bag, and each comprises 36 pieces of leather — the Kelly is truly a work of art.
“The Kelly bag is one of the most complex bags we have in terms of our savoir-faire, or know-how, which is really based on the tradition of saddlery and harnesses,” said Olivier Fournier, executive vice president of subordination and organisation development at Hermès International to Vanity Fair, when describing the bag's creation process.
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The Kelly has also become a staple in the rotations of global celebrities including Beyonce and Miranda Kerr. While the Birkin may have landed at the forefront of the pop culture sphere in recent years (thanks to the Kardashians), the Kelly is still one of Hermès’ most sought-after pieces. According to data published in 2021, the Kelly has been Instagrammed over 5.45 million times, and reports have also shown that resale prices have increased by 350% in recent years

The Balenciaga 'City'

The Backstory:

The City (or Motorcycle) popped off in the early 2000s after Balenciaga's then-creative director Nicolas Ghesquière gifted the bag to A-listers like Kate Moss and Sienna Miller.
Made of distressed black lambskin and adorned with battered tassels, the motorcycle style was initially passed-off by the company, and only 25 were initially created.

What Makes It So Iconic?:

Throughout the 00s, the bag achieved undeniable cult status. It was a staple in celebrity paparazzi shots that covered tabloid mags and became instantly affiliated with the messy, shabby-chic high-fashion look of the 00s. If the Olsen twins were seen pouring out of their NYU dorm, you were sure to see a gigantic Starbucks cup and a City bag in hand.
The bag is an enduring, edgy fashion icon, and with the Indie Sleaze aesthetic making a comeback, the City bag has found itself attached to the shoulders of It-girls everywhere once again — Bella Hadid and Julia Fox have both been spotted this year with newer iterations of the bag.
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The Dior 'Lady'

The Backstory:

The first iteration of the Lady Dior came to life in 1994 and was initially referred to as 'Chouchou' (a French term for affection). It was designed by Gianfranco Ferre, who was inspired by the Napoleon III chairs used in his first show for the fashion house in 1947.

What Makes It So Iconic?:

From the revenge dress to the 'uniform', Princess Diana's impact on fashion reverberates to this day — and it's no different with the Lady Dior bag. The Lady Dior was first seen with Di in Paris in 1995 and was gifted to her by the first lady of France during the opening of a Cézanne exhibition.
She was also seen wearing it on a visit to Liverpool in 1995 and again at the 1996 MET Gala, where she paired the bag with an iconic blue slip dress.
Given the inspiration behind the design and Princess Diana's association with the bag, Lady Dior carries on Christian Dior's legacy and remains an essential piece in Dior's history.

The Gucci 'Hobo'

The Backstory:

The Gucci 'Hobo' (or 'Jackie' bag) was designed in the 50s and initially referred to as the 'Fifties Constance'. The silhouette gained popularity in the 60s and 70s as it was designed as a unisex bag that reflected the shifting social views of the time.

What Makes It So Iconic?:

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Similarly to Lady Dior, the Hobo's icon status can be largely attributed to Jackie Kennedy's love of the bag. The bag became a symbol of her universally-loved styled when she used the bag as a shield from the paparazzi.
The bag has been re-incarnated multiple times during Gucci's lifetime through a variety of floral prints and even in Gucci's Supreme collaboration. Tom Ford famously revised the bag in 1999, and a 2014 campaign saw Kate Moss using the bag as a shield to pay homage to Jackie.
If any of these iconic bags caught your eye, follow the links above and you'll be able to find one for yourself on eBay.
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