From rocket ships to perfume bottles and even a tribute to electronic ankle monitors, you could always expect Karl Lagerfeld’s handbags to deliver the unexpected.
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But despite the vast array of extraordinary creations the fashion legend turned out during his tenure as creative director at Chanel, his parting handbag hit is surprisingly practical. Co-designed with his studio director and now successor, Virginie Viard, and christened “Chanel 19” after the year it was released, the future accessory icon isn’t outrageously outsized nor a trending teeny-tiny style—it’s a neat shoulder sling complete with a front flap pocket and adjustable strap to suit the modern woman’s myriad needs.
Having made its debut on Chanel’s autumn/winter 2020 runway, as part of Lagerfeld’s final collection for the brand, the Chanel 19 is less than a year old but already on track to become a piece of fashion history, not least because the design takes its cues from one of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s most important creations, the 2.55 handbag. She imagined the iconic carryall— complete with the label’s signature interwoven leather and chain strap—in 1955, after becoming fed up with holding her purse. Like the 2.55, this year’s 19 has a timeless aesthetic. Sling it over your shoulder, wear it cross-body or hold it by its top handle—the choice is yours, just as Coco would have wanted.
Always one to put his own irreverent spin on tradition, Lagerfeld’s iteration includes accents such as oversized double C hardware and larger-than-life soft quilting as fabulous as the man himself. It comes in multiple forms, from small to large, and even a thoroughly modern waist bag—the classic Chanel handbag updated for a new generation of fans. Initially cast in tweed and jewel-toned leather, then adopted by the likes of Sienna Miller, the 19 also debuted in pretty pastel colourways on Chanel’s Resort 2020 runway, Viard’s first for the label. Having spent decades as Lagerfeld’s right-hand woman before assuming the role of creative director, Viard has already won us over with her on-point updates (so good we suggest investing in two at a time). We can’t wait to see where she takes this new It-accessory next.
Styled by Katherine Green; Photographed by Jesse-Leigh Elford
This article originally appeared in the December issue of InStyle.