There are few objects created throughout fashion’s capricious history which have earned the iconic status of the Chanel handbag. The distinctive quilted leather; the chain handle; the signature interlocking C’s: practical and elegant, every attribute speaks to the house’s storied heritage. Indeed, the bag’s namesake, Gabrielle Chanel, possessed these qualities in abundance.
Karl Lagerfeld paid explicit homage to Gabrielle in Chanel’s S/S17 ready-to-wear show, designing and naming a new handbag after the house’s founder. Structurally fitted around a thermoformed base, the body of the Gabrielle is light and supple, in line with a quest for comfort that the prolific designer and businesswoman never tired of. The signature chain strap permits versatility – wear it over a shoulder, across the body, or both ways at once – reflecting the multifaceted character of the modern Chanel envoy. And perhaps most importantly, it is painfully covetable, at once bringing to mind the purses of both 90s supermodels and 20s starlets, but with a thoroughly contemporary twist.
To celebrate its brilliance, illustrator Jo Ratcliffe has created a cell animation consisting of 1,457 Indian ink drawings. Included in the short film is a demonstration of the essential items you might want to carry inside your Gabrielle – from a bottle of Le Vernis nail polish, in scarlet, to a tube of Rouge Allure lipstick – with the animation’s soundtrack scored by composer Ysanne Spevack, who even used a bottle of Chanel No. 5 as a percussion instrument. See? Elegant and practical.