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4 iconic designer handbags that have stood the test of time

By Melanie Kruger on 2nd April 2020

As the seasons come and go, so, too, do the favourite items in our wardrobes. It doesn’t pay to be seen sporting last season’s Gucci jacket or that Prada dress from 2019 – at least, not if you take your role as a style icon seriously.

One thing that rarely goes out of fashion, though, is a luxury designer ‘it’ handbag. Some of the biggest name designers have been churning out the same models for years, and thanks to their unrivalled quality and beautiful designs, it’s little wonder that they have stood the test of time. In fact, a classic Gucci or Louis Vuitton handbag will often win you a whole lot more kudos in the style stakes than the latest model on the scene, having fast become synonymous with the effortless glamour and sophistication many aspire to. These iconic bags, many of which have been around for decades, show no signs of going anywhere fast, so if you’re planning on splurging on a new one this season, then think twice.

If you’re yet to add any of the classics to your collection, and are tired of swapping out the latest statement bag every few weeks only to repeat the process again soon afterwards, then look no further because we’ve rounded up some of the most iconic ‘it’ bags of all time to treat yourself to this year. And best of all, you’ll still be happily wearing them in years to come.

Louis Vuitton Speedy

Created for glamorous film star, Audrey Hepburn back in 1930, the original ‘Express’ version of the Louis Vuitton Speedy, at just 30cm in size, was an homage to the era’s travel revolution. It came after the glamorous celebrity asked Vuitton to scale down his enormous ‘Keepall’ travel bag into something that would be easier to carry for daily use – and so this iconic handbag was born.

It came as no surprise that once Hepburn began being seen with it, demand for the Speedy sky-rocketed. Vuitton put the model into regular production, and it has retained its status as the ‘it’ bag to be seen with right up until today.

Chanel 2.55

The rectangular quilted design of the Chanel 2.55 handbag first burst its way onto the scene back in 1955, and remains one of the most sought-after handbags in the world.

An innovator of its time, this ground-breaking new model won a legion of loyal fans thanks to its glamorous shoulder-strap design. Before it, there had never been such a feature on a women’s handbag, with previous styles always limited to clutches, totes and pocketbooks.

The 2.55 didn’t feature just any strap, either, its gold chain style injected an extra dose of luxury and sophistication and has become one of the most copied features ever. High street stores and fast fashion outlets can regularly be found selling cheaper bags inspired by this original and iconic design, but it goes without saying that they can never hope to reach the lofty heights of Chanel.1

Chloe Paddington

Launched during the Internet era that saw us looking to celebrities and socialites for style inspiration more than ever before, the famous Chloe ‘Paddington’ model shot to fame after being sported by the likes of the Hilton sisters and a plethora of actresses and models.

A stalwart branding campaign by Chloe took full advantage of the time, putting the Paddington in the hands of as many admired celebrities as possible, and sparking a global frenzy for the bag in the process. A strategy that firmly put this sophisticated designer brand on the map, Chloe has since launched a stream of other ‘it’ bags including the ‘Faye’ and the ‘Nile’ – though it has to be said that none of them have achieved quite the same status as the original holy grail.

Hermes Birkin

There’s always a story behind a good handbag and the Birkin bag was born after Jane Birkin, in 1981 found herself sitting beside Hermes CEO, Jean-Louis Dumas, on a flight. After Dumas noticed how Birkin struggled with her unwieldy carry-on, he asked her if she would act as his muse, advising him on the features that would make life easier when carrying a large bag for travel.

Three years later, the Hermes Birkin was released, and remains one of the most iconic handbags of all time. It can often be seen being toted in the First and Business Class cabins of airplanes flying worldwide – so if you’re a frequent flyer then it might be time to invest.

Get the right handbag, and it is guaranteed to stand the test of time forever. These four models will never let you down and will effortlessly elevate your status in the style stakes to all new heights.