Chanel is quietly but surely going through a period of transformation now, as it closes its incomparable chapter of history with Karl Lagerfeld and marches on with Virginie Viard now at the helm. Crucially, it’s a subtle evolution that’s borne out of Viard’s over-30 years working as a right hand to Lagerfeld as studio director at Chanel.
Fall/Winter 2019 was the French luxury giant’s first show post-Karl Lagerfeld’s passing. The collection, built around the fantasy of après ski chic, was a brilliant romp through the aesthetic codes of the brand – as established by its eponymous founder and stewardship of Lagerfeld. The ideas of feminine tailoring, ease of movement, and the liberation of women seemed to be guiding lights.
The Chanel 19 bag in the smallest belt bag size as worn on the Fall/Winter 2019 catwalk – matching tweeds and all.
It showed through the clothes: tweed suits anchored not by pencil skirts but wide, pleated pants; organza shirts layered over cotton ones then paired with practical A-line maxis; and a finale parade of mini dresses with sculpted, snowball-like skirts – light literally and in spirit. It also showed through the latest major bag launch from the brand: the Chanel 19, which drops in boutiques end September.
The numeral has a number of serendipitous importance to the brand. Gabrielle Chanel’s birthday is August 19 – the impetus behind the naming of the Nº19 fragrance launched in 1971. The naming of the new bag also echoes that of the 2.55, an iconic predecessor that took its name from its debut in February 1955. In an almost baptismal fashion, 19 is thus meant to mark the birth of this design.
The bag takes similar stylistic cues from the 2.55, but updates it in a more casual, everyday manner. It uses the brand’s signature diamond quilting pattern, but renders it larger and more abstract. It almost even disappears on the tweed versions, which were chosen to match the fabrics shown on the runway. From the Fall/Winter 2019 collection, the seasonal tweeds come in shades of pink, green, and a beige and black houndstooth. More traditional tastes are, of course, accounted for with luscious goatskin versions in timeless black, white and beige.
The long leather-laced metal chain sports three finishes at once, running successively from silver to aged gold to ruthenium – an unexpected, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-
A bag for all seasons and needs
The large size, in particular, has the very alluring quality of being spacious enough to house more than just your wallet, phone, keys, and a lipstick. There’s room for a book, a (small) umbrella, and that unduly large pouch of makeup we’re all guilty of carting around “in case of emergencies”. Perfect, in other words, for the whole kit and caboodle. If you live light, there is a standard fare medium size, and a more compact belt bag variant to be worn around the waist.
It’s an evolution of signature Chanel elements, pieced together for life in 2019. If you’re comparing it to its predecessor, you could think of it this way: the 2.55 is an investment classic you reserve for dressed up evenings, while the 19 is your insouciant Chanel for the everyday.
The Chanel 19 bag will be available in Chanel boutiques from the end of September 2019 onwards.