The chain strap: it’s a defining feature of classic bags. From the mid-twentieth century to the 2010s, the chain strap bag in its many iterations has become a staple in any handbag closet. A marker of elegance and femininity, it’s never gone out of style.
What used to be the exclusive domain of Chanel has now become a style embraced by designers across the board, from Zara to Dior. In order to honor the classic style and discover more about our beloved bags, let’s take a look at the illustrious history of the chain strap and the contemporary bags that have followed suit—it’s celebration time.
Coco Chanel created the shoulder bag when she no longer wanted to carry her bag around in her hand at events—at the time, only handheld bags for women were in vogue. So, she looked to male satchels for inspiration, and created the chainlink strap in 1955 for the flap (what is now, of course, the 2.55 Reissue).
There are a few theories floating around on where the inspiration for the chain material came from. It may have been the bridles and harnesses of horses, or perhaps the chain belts the nuns wore in the orphanage where Coco grew up—the mystery persists.
In the decades since its release, the chain strap has become a symbol of the brand under Coco.
The chain then became intertwined with leather when materials were scarce in the decades following the release of the flap bag. Now, this difference is reflected in the Classic Flap, which Lagerfeld introduced in the 1980s, and the 2.55 reissue: the former has leather-woven straps, while the 2.55’s strap is entirely chain. This is a distinguishing feature between the two bags.
Dior, like the other French fashion houses, followed suit over the course of the twentieth century, incorporating the chain strap in a number of their bags. Today, there are two major Dior styles that rely on the chain strap: the J’Adior flaps, and the Diorama flaps.
Saint Laurent, of course, also took the cue. The flap bags (and WOCs) for which the brand is known are often compared to Chanel flaps, and for good reason. Despite the expected variance in logos, the form and chain strap bear a striking resemblance to Coco’s designs.
Naturally, LV isn’t just monogram canvas and luggage. In recent years, the brand has also endorsed the chain strap, bringing it in most noticeably on their small crossbodies. Take, for example, a number of the new styles, including the Twist and the New Wave bags.
This is a bit of an odd one—while Hermès has notably not fully embraced the chain strap in its bags, Hermès collectors certainly have. As we’ve pointed out before (read: Battle of the WOCs: Chanel vs. Hermès), Hermès lovers have sometimes used the Farandole Chainnecklace as a strap on the Kelly wallet. Apparently, Hermès itself has succumbed as the Verrou now comes with a chain.
When it comes to chain straps…when there’s a will, there’s a way!
In its 1950s and modern forms, there’s no denying that the chain strap is the perfect addition to many a handbag from our favorite designers. Do you have a favorite chain strap bag? And if you’re a Chanel gal, do you opt for the 2.55 with its solid metal chain, or the Classic Flap with its leather-entwined chain? Tell us in the comments below!
Read related articles: