A well chosen classic handbag really can stand the test of time – and with prices of the most coveted iconic bags continuing to rise – it could be a very wise investment. From the Louis Vuitton ‘Speedy’, created in 1930 that was popularised by Audrey Hepburn in the 60s, to Dior’s quilted ‘Lady Dior’ boxy bag – Princess Diana’s firm favourite throughout the 90s, here are the key classic handbags from the last 90 years that will never go out of style…
The legendary Birkin bag was first created for actress Jane Birkin after a chance encounter with Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas on a plane. She mentioned her struggle to find a handbag that could accommodate her needs as young mother and Dumas duly fashioned a spacious rectangular holdall with a dedicated space for baby bottles – arguably the ultimate baby bag.
Named by Coco Chanel for the month and year in which it was designed – February 1955 – the 2.55 handbag changed history because the chain straps gave women a way of carrying a bag hands-free, over their shoulder. The Classic Flap was created by Karl Lagerfeld when he took over as Creative Director in 1983 as a reinterpretation of the iconic 2.55 handbag, and it has since become a staple of house, reimagined year after year in new colours and fabrics.
Designed by Silvia Venturini Fendi, the petite oblong Baguette got its name by being the perfect size to fit snugly under the arm. Thanks to the logo mania of the 1990s and a certain Carrie Bradshaw in Sex & The City, its status as a cult classic was sealed.
When Kate Moss spotted a sample of the Classic City backstage at a fitting in 2001, she immediately fell for its soft leather, zips and tassels and requested one – and the soon-to-be cult carryall was immediately put into production.
First released in the 1950s as the Constance, this distinctive curved half-moon hobo bag was so beloved by Jackie Kennedy Onassis who used it to shield from paparazzi in the 1960s, that it would later be renamed after the former first lady.
Reminiscent of the medicine-style bags of the 1950s, this classic zip tote takes its name from the “Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II” in Milan, where the brand’s founder Mario Prada, grandfather of Miuccia Prada, opened his first store in 1913.
Originally gifted to Princess Diana by First Lady of France, Bernadette Chirac, this ladylike handbag became a firm favourite of the most photographed woman in the world and was later named in her honour. The handbag was given to represent French savoir faire – the bag’s signature quilted Cannage motif is said to be inspired by the canework of the Napoleon III-style chairs on which guests would sit at Dior’s haute couture shows.
Sporting Louis Vuitton’s famed monogram print, the Speedy originally launched in 1930 as ‘L’Express’, a smaller version of the house’s game-changing Keepall. Introduced in three sizes – 30cm, 35cm and 40cm – the Speedy’s popularity surged in the 1950s after Audrey Hepburn requested a more compact style be made; and the Speedy 25 was born