Some handbags redefined fashion. Here’s how they became icons and why they inspire us.
The most iconic handbags cast a kind of spell on us. They stimulate all the senses with their form, color, feel, and smell. They intrigue us with a compelling origin story and long lineage. And, like all great art, they have an undeniable presence. Somehow, they speak to us.
Such cult bags are carried by big name actresses, models, and influencers, and regularly make Hollywood cameos, which only increases their allure. Mostly, though, it's their ability to transform a woman's look that's the true measure of their power.
Here's a short list of handbags in history that have become icons of the fashion industry and have inspired our designs at Nantív:
The Speedy is not only the most famous Louis Vuitton handbag, it's the most recognizable bag in the world. LV originally designed it as a travel bag in 1930. Back then, the company was mostly making high-end luggage and crafted the Speedy out of cotton canvas so it could be flattened inside a suitcase for ease of travel. That bag, which was 30cm long, was dubbed the Speedy 30.
In 1965, actress Audrey Hepburn asked LV for a slightly smaller Speedy for easier everyday use. Thus was born the 25cm 'Speedy 25.' Hepburn carried the bag religiously and appeared in countless photos with it draped from her arm, transforming her into a kind of handbag icon herself.
There are now other Speedy bags (the 35 and 40) and the design went through minor changes over the years. But the Speedy 25, LV's signature handbag, remains the most popular. It's considered a must-have handbag for women who love fashion and accessories.
The Speedy's backstory, functionality, and elegance are three essential components of a great and timeless handbag that Nantív always aims to emulate.
Once again, here's a cult classic that was birthed by the marriage of fashion's greatest lovers: functionality and art.
In 1955, Coco Chanel decided it was time for women to end centuries of encumberment by handheld purses. She had seen soldiers carrying bags over their shoulders and thought, "Why can't women do that?" So, in February of that year (2/55, that is), she debuted the 2.55, a small purse with a long gold chain that could be slung over the shoulder. For the first time, women's hands were free.
In 1980, designer Karl Lagerfeld, who then helmed Chanel, added the famous crossed CC logo to the handbag's enclosure. Today, the 2.55 is the gem of the French design house and a fixture in every fashion lover's repertoire.
At Nantív, we love that Coco Chanel had a vision for what women needed at the time. She changed fashion and even lives. We strive for the same with our designs. That's why we study movement and gestures and create bags that compliment modern women's lifestyles.
We're all about flow...just like Coco.
The Birkin bag's backstory is best told on Hermès' website:
[In1984] The English actress [Jane Birkin] and [Hermès designer] Jean-Louis Dumas meet ten thousand feet above the ground. The young mother laments that she cannot find a shopping bag big enough to carry her daughter Lou’s bottles. No sooner said than done, the empathetic, clever Monsieur Dumas designs a deep and supple holdall. It has distinguishing features such as a polished plaque, a swivel clasp, and, of course, the house’s signature saddle stitching. A legend is born.
Today, the Birkin is available in a variety of color combinations, materials, and motifs and is one of the most desired luxury leather bags on the market. Demand has remained so high for so long, in fact, that buying one is even considered to be a financial investment. Why is that? Because the Birkin has what the Speedy and 2.55 have: gorgeous design, superior craftsmanship, and timeless style.
Moreover, all three bags met women's needs just as modernity was changing norms and impacting their lifestyles.
We’re in a similar time now as technology, female empowerment, and gender norms change our lives. At Nantív, we’re designing with those elements in mind. And we're looking to fashion icons for inspiration.
Check out our handbag collection and see if you can spot a little bit of Louis, Coco and Jane in our bags VITA, EVE, VINT and TIV.
Love and flow,