Chanel: The Legend, the Lore, and the Pieces That Make This Moment

lifestyle image of model wearing chanel tweed handbag FASHIONPHILE

Chanel is one of the most recognizable and iconic luxury fashion brands in the world.


The brand owes much of its success to its founder, Coco Chanel, who revolutionized the world of fashion in the early 20th century. Chanel handbags have since then become a symbol of luxury and sophistication, with each design not only being iconic but carrying a little bit of history.

When Karl Lagerfeld took over, he upheld the high standards of the Chanel legacy while infusing the brand with his own unique vision. The combination of Coco Chanel’s groundbreaking designs and Karl Lagerfeld’s creative genius has made Chanel handbags some of the most coveted and influential accessories in the world of fashion.

As a tribute to these iconic figures, the following blog article dives into the history that defines the spirit of Chanel, and the pieces of the moment that will always remain classic.

A History of Chanel & the Woman Behind the Iconic Brand

“Once upon a time, a woman became a legend.” That’s how the riveting series that depicts Gabriel (Coco) Chanel’s life, Inside Chanel, begins. It encompasses the entire tale of a young, imaginative soul born into poverty who (as she puts it) re-created her life into one that “pleased her.”

Born in Saumur, France on August 19, 1883, Gabrielle Chanel — fondly called Coco — was raised in an orphanage by nuns from the age of 12, after her mother’s untimely death and her father’s subsequent abrupt departure. A cafe singer, a small shop owner, and later a designer, Chanel’s upward mobility had everything to do with her taste, sense of self, charisma, and perhaps most importantly, vision.

Chanel was a master of creativity and ingenuity, coined by those who admire her as the true heroine of the century. To such an extent that French novelist and art theorist André Malraux famously proclaimed that only three names would remain: De Gaulle, Picasso, and — you guessed it, Chanel. (If you know anything about De Gaulle or Picasso, that is really saying something).

So, why is Chanel so famous today?

As with every beloved fashion house, Chanel’s reputation didn’t happen overnight; it’s been built, slowly and with dedication over the course of more than a century. Decades of truly impeccable quality and the ability to produce timeless designs, again and again, make Chanel one of the wisest luxury investments out there.

Case in point: the Chanel Flap first came on the scene in the 1950s and still feels just as fresh and relevant today. (Thanks to the craftsmanship and materials, most bags may last that many decades, too).

The Chanel Pieces of the Moment

Following Coco Chanel’s passing, Karl Lagerfeld honored her legacy and carried forward the brand’s distinctive aesthetic. Today, Chanel remains an endearing symbol of luxury, status, and sophistication. In the spirit of those qualities, the late Karl Lagerfeld, who passed away in 2019, was a true visionary who left an indelible mark not only for Chanel but for the fashion industry. 

So while the fashion house has produced quite a range of irresistible and highly sought-after bags, Karl Lagerfeld’s design influence is apparent in the iconic Chanel bags he created during his tenure as the creative director for Chanel. These are Chanel pieces that are making the moment, and that is probably worth jumping on now (if you don’t want to pay more for them later).

Learn more about the classic Chanel Double Flap:

The Chanel Classic Flap

The Chanel Classic Flap, otherwise known as the 11.12, is one of the most iconic Chanel bags, introduced in 1983 by Karl Lagerfeld after he became the creative director. Lagerfeld’s interpretation of the original 2.55 Flap bag included modern updates like a metal chain interlaced with leather and a double CC clasp, making it an instantly recognizable status symbol. This bag continues to appreciate in value year over year, making it a great investment piece for any collector looking to add to their collection.

product image of chanel pink double flap FASHIONPHILE
The Grand Shopping Tote

The Chanel Grand Shopping Tote is a structured tote bag created by the legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld in the 1990s. Designed with the brand’s signature quilting, chain straps, and large CC logo, this iconic Chanel bag exudes sophistication and style. Although the Chanel Grand Shopping Tote (GST) was discontinued in 2015, you can still find a coveted selection of Grand Shopping Totes at FASHIONPHILE.

product image of red chanel GST FASHIONPHILE
The Chanel Gabrielle

Named after the visionary founder Gabrielle Chanel (aka Coco Chanel), the Gabrielle bag was first introduced in Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2017 Collection. This stunning bag combines mixed textiles and metals, perfectly capturing Gabrielle’s signature fusion of masculine and feminine aesthetics. With its versatile design, the Gabrielle bag can be worn in multiple ways, making it an excellent choice for day-to-evening wear while at the same time embodying the timeless allure of the Chanel brand.

Fun fact: the Chanel Gabrielle bag design is inspired by virtual reality goggles. The style comes in so many style variations, from the hobo version to a backpack, a bucket bag, and more!

product image of chanel gabrielle hobo in black FASHIONPHILE
The Chanel Boy Flap

The Chanel Boy Flap was introduced by the legendary Karl Lagerfeld in the Fall/Winter 2011 collection and named after Gabrielle Chanel’s first love, Boy Capel. The bag’s rectangular shape, thick gourmette chain, and graphic CC clasp capture an edgier boyish charm, making it a coveted Chanel accessory. Available in six sizes and produced in a range of colors and textiles, the Boy bag allows you to express your unique sense of style with ease.

product image of chanel boy bag black FASHIONPHILE
What are your favorite iconic Chanel styles?
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