10. Louis Vuitton: Petit Malle: 2014: La Petit Malle has been a signature throughout Nicolas Ghesquiere’s time at Louis Vuitton, reappearing in a new form each season. Its stunning brass work and rectangular masculine silhouette instantly evoke the classic imagery of the Louis V trunk; fittingly the three X’s often placed in its lower corner are a homage to Albert Khan, an American architect who made the brand’s red trunk famous. Today the Petit Malle can be found in everything from vintage burgundy to pure cream to whimsical sequined patterns. My personal favorite Petit Malle patron is Russian model Natalia Vodianova.
9. Gucci: Sylvie Bag: 2016: No designer in recent memory has done more to revitalize a legendary brand than Alessandro Michele has with Gucci. To me, this re-designed Sylvie bag, a key component in Michele’s SS17 collection, is an instant classic and an excellent example of what has made the designer such a sensation. This sleek versatile piece is perfect for a busy modern lifestyle; simultaneously, its iconic striped handle and fabric insert are an elegant nod to the house’s illustrious past. Sylvie bags may not be the most bold or eye-catching Michele pieces, but their s timeless elegance should make it a mainstay for years to come.
8. Chanel: Boy Bag, 2011: Karl Lagerfeld designed the Chanel boy bag forty years after Coco’s death in a tribute to her appreciation of menswear, her streamlined incorporation of traditionally masculine elements into female clothing, and, of course, her epic young romance with British polo player Boy Capel. This is an elegantly shaped bag but it is anything but delicate. Its starkly-defined lines, bold quilted front, and resemblance to the cartridge bags used by hunters makes it the ultimate power handbag, sure to catch eyes and send a message whenever it enters a room. Many iterations have been made since 2011; look for the Boy Bag in red python or metallic crumpled goatskin.
7. Longchamp: Le Pliage: 1993: The original Le Pliage has become perhaps one of the most ubiquitous accessories, and easily accessible fashion statements, in the world. Go anywhere from Chicago to Paris and you’ll see a veritable parade of Longchamps; most of them are some a variation of Le Pliage. This first bag, inspired by origami patterns, was unique because of its lightweight nylon make, durability, and foldable nature.
6. Celine: Trapeze Bag, 2010: This bag simply needed to be on the list after its 2017 discontinuation devastated so many of us the fashion community. It played a key role in revitalizing the previously stagnant Celine brand; Phoebe Philo’s distinctive design, adorned with smooth calf hair suede in a variety of brilliant shades, provided both whimsy and gracefulness at a price point more affordable than that of most of its high fashion counterparts.
5. Christian Dior: Lady Dior, 1995: Few things will make a handbag more iconic than a deep association with one of society’s most tragic heroes. The Lady Dior was not created for the Lady Diana but the Princess of Wales did adopt it as her favorite handbag after she received it as a gift from French first lady Bernadatte Chirac. Even after Diana died, the bag remained a modern trademark of the Dior house; the most recent face of the “Lady Dior” has been French actress Marion Cotillard.
4. Hermes: Sac a Depeches (Kelly Bag), 1935: It’d be hard to mention Lady Diana’s iconic bag without giving a nod to Grace Kelly as well. Interestingly, what we now call the Kelly bag existed for twenty years before the Monegasque princess first used it; it was originally designed in 1935 as the sac a depeche. It became famous in the 1950’s when Grace repeatedly used it to cover her baby bump and was caught by the paparazzi in the act. The 2018 edition of the bag is one of the best in recent years; its bold red and purple shapes evoke both the Cubist and Constructivist artistic movements.
3. Louis Vuitton: Speedy 25, 1965: This iconic Louis Vuitton monogrammed handbag is now one of the most easily recognizable style and status statements for women around the world; what few know is that it was created at the specific behest of the legendary Audrey Hepburn. Audrey asked Louis Vuitton to create a day-to-day version of their famous duffel the Keepall; the result was this exquisite purse that she was soon photographed everywhere with!
2. Hermes: Nile Crocodile Himalayan Birkin: There are few items more coveted than Birkins, and the Himalayan edition of the bag, made from albino Nile crocodile skin, can be called the crown jewel of crown jewels. Need proof? Himalayan Birkins (named because their white matte color is reminiscent of the hauntingly beautiful cloud-covered Himalayan peaks) have broken the record for the “most expensive handbag sold at auction” twice in the past three years. Most recently, Christie’s sold a Himalayan Birkin (encrusted with over 240 diamonds) for over $500,000 AUD. It’s said that artisans require at least 48 hours of work time to make a “standard” Birkin bag; with the crafting and dyeing process taking much longer for these beautiful Himalayan collectibles, it’s no wonder that they’re considered a better investment than the stock market. Find them on the arms of the likes of Kim Kardashian and Victoria Beckham.
1. Chanel, 2.55 Shoulder Bag, 1955: Perhaps more than any other handbag, this iconic Coco piece revolutionized both the handbag industry and how society viewed fashion. Chanel was the first major couturier to design a women’s bag with a shoulder strap. Indeed, this 1955 piece ultimately made what had previously been seen as a socially unacceptable fashion faux pas into something not only chic but even “de rigeur.” Legends abound about the inspiration behind the bag’s design, but here are a couple of commonly accepted facts: The bag’s quilted nature was inspired by Coco’s riding days and its original burgundy color was a nod to the uniforms she wore in an orphanage as a child. In the 1980’s Karl Lagerfeld introduced the interlocking “C” clasp that is a signature component of the bag today.
By Jesse Scott