Released in the Eighties, the Chanel 11.12 was Karl Lagerfeld’s tribute to Coco Chanel’s 2.55—the OG It-bag. Lagerfeld’s updates to the classic included replacing the 2.55’s turnlock with the instantly recognisable double C-clasp, while the metal chain of his version came interlaced with leather—a sensuous play of hard and soft.
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Otherwise, Lagerfeld kept most of what made the 2.55 so iconic in the first place. The 2.55 (released in February 1955 as its name suggests), of course, came about because Coco wanted a bag that was as chic as it was practical, and would leave her hands free to boot. Her solution: multiple pockets and compartments—the entire thing lined in brightly coloured silk to make finding her things easier. An adjustable chain strap meant that the bag could be slung nonchalantly on her shoulders and allowed the bag to be carried in different ways.
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For her creation, Coco also utilised leathers normally used for gloves, resulting in a softness and suppleness that was uncommon for the bags of that period. The quilted motif was lifted from the equestrian world—a lifelong love for the couturier. Other hallmarks of her metier were also transferred onto the bag—namely the inside-out construction that resulted in the 2.55 and 11.12’s highly complex, but highly durable bag-in-bag structures.
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Virginie Viard, the current Creative Director of the House, has cleverly kept the 11.12 a central tenet in her construction of the Chanel identity today. Equal parts elegant and effortless, the 11.12 is as aligned with Viard’s brand of easy femininity as it was all those decades ago with Lagerfeld’s dynamic glamour and with Coco’s fuss-free chic in its earlier iteration as the 2.55. To celebrate the House icon, Viard has commissioned Sofia Coppola to tenderly document the creation process of the 11.12—the results of which can be seen here.