The Five Most Classic Handbags in History

You can be sure these timeless icons will never go out of style

The designer handbag world is vast, with both new handbag brands and new designs from storied Houses popping up season after season. Each year, there are countless silhouettes on the market, and consumers are blessed with more options than ever.

While consumers often pay attention to what’s new and trendy, demand will always remain for the tried and true classics – the ones that have stood the test of time. It’s those classics that have helped to shape fashion history contributing to the accessory world we know (and love) today.

So whether you’re new to the world of designer bags and looking to purchase your first one, or are making it your goal to collect all of the classics, today we thought it would be fun to break day the 5 most classic handbags in all of modern handbag history. So without further ado (and in no particular order) let’s get to it!

The Hermès Birkin

We’re kicking it off with one of the most elusive bags of handbag history, the unmistakeable Hermès Birkin.

If you love handbags, you likely know the story of the Birkin’s creation, whether you own one or not. In the early 1980s, Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas sat next to Jane Birkin on an airplane. In-flight, the duo discussed what would make a good carry-on bag after Jane Birkin was seen fumbling with hers.

One sketch on an airplane sick bag, and in 1984, the Birkin was born. To this day, it spawns waitlists and sells at a premium on the secondary market. It is still widely considered the world’s ultimate bag.

The Classic Hermes Birkin
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Louis Vuitton’s Speedy

Like it or not, the Louis Vuitton Speedy will forever be classified as one of the most classic bags in handbag history, as well as one of the most recognizaeable. Dating back to the 1930s, the Speedy was conceptualized as Louis Vuitton’s first daily hauler and was largely based on another one of the brand’s classics: The Keepall. First introduced in the 30 size, the 25 was later added in 1959 at the request of none other than Audrey Hepburn. The actress was then photographed carrying her Speedy time and time again.

The Speedy’s range is vast, offering multiple sizes from ultra-petite to extra-large and a wide array of materials and colors. Of course, the brand’s monogram is ubiquitous and has an important history. Louis Vuitton Monogram was copyrighted in 1896 when it was invented by Louis Vuitton’s son Georges.

Combining Louis Vuitton’s initials with abstract floral shapes, the creation of LV Monogram was a radical move, as prior to this creation any initials typically seen on a trunk were usually the carrier’s own.

Louis Vuitton Speedy
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The Lady Dior

The youngest handbag on our list, few other new handbag designs of the last 30 years have been able to stand the test of time in the way that the Lady Dior has. However, it was basically destined to become handbag royalty since it was named after British royalty herself, the late Lady Diana, Princess of Wales. Few bags boast the versatility of the Lady Dior, and its classic shape makes it an ageless icon.

Unmistakably Dior, the Lady Dior pays homage to the history of the House. While the bag’s charms are an ode to the lucky charms Christian Dior always kept with him, the staple Cannage motif traces back to the Napoleon III seats the House used to set up for guests at fashion shows. Reinvented season after season and forever a beloved choice for handbag lovers of any age, the Lady Dior has cemented its place among other revered bags of its caliber.

The Classic Lady Dior Bag
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Chanel’s Classic Flap Bag

If you thought we’d leave out the Chanel Classic Flap, you thought wrong.

Known by most as the Chanel Classic Flap, the bag also goes by the Chanel 11.12 and is one of the most widely recognizable handbags of all time. The name 11.12 comes from the original style code given to the Medium Classic Flap (A01112), the OG of the Classic Flap family. The original was derived from the Chanel 2.55 bag and came to be what we know it as today in 1983, when Karl Lagerfeld added the now-signature interwoven CC turnlock to the bag.

Despite hefty price increases, the demand for the Classic Flap shows no signs of slowing down. It has remained one of the handbag world’s most sought-after shapes thanks to its status, reinvented repeatedly.

Chanel Classic Flap
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Gucci Bamboo

While not a specific bag exactly, Gucci Bamboo deserves a place on this list as few elements of handbag history are as recognizable and inventive as the curved handles of Gucci Bamboo.

The patented method of creation was developed in 1947 by Gucci craftsmen who realized there was a specific process to heat and bend bamboo in such a way that it would retain its shape once cooled.

The process is detailed and thorough, and you can be sure that each and every Bamboo piece used for a handbag has been hand-chosen by a specially trained artisan who will then mold the bamboo over a fire to bend it into shape. As the bamboo heats up, it softens, making it malleable.

Artisans have meticulously crafted Gucci’s Bamboo Handles this way for generations. And while Gucci Bamboo is easily one of the House’s most emblematic symbols, it also happens to be one of the handbag world’s most classic bags, remaining a mainstay for the House since the 1940s. A Gucci Bamboo bag is one of the most timeless bags a handbag lover can buy.

MFW Day 5 9
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