Fashion & Feminism - The Evolution of the Handbag (2000-Today)

Posted: May 17 2017

The New Millennium brought a lot of firsts for women.  Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House and Harvard-educated Michelle Obama became the first African-American First Lady.  “Take Our Daughters to Work Day” became a national event giving young girls across America insight into professional opportunities they might never have considered.  It was a new era and women were leading the charge.

However, in a forward-looking Millennium, fashion designers looked to the past for inspiration.  Classic designs from Dior, Chanel and Saint Laurent were refashioned for the modern woman.  What was once considered old was new again. 

Louis Vuitton was one of the first fashion houses to reinvent their classic designs each season and continues doing so today.  One of our favorite designs is the Trunk bag seen on the Louis Vuitton runways in recent seasons.  It is a scaled-down version of their classic Travel Trunk, small enough to carry everyday and embellished with modern touches.  It is the perfect mix of old and new with a thoughtful nod to the Louis Vuitton heritage.

Karl Lagerfeld, however, may be the only designer that can entice three generations of women to carry the same handbag.  The Chanel 2.55 Flap Bag was introduced in 1955, but is still carried today by women of all ages due to Lagerfeld’s innovative use of new materials.  Now, a grandmother, mother and daughter can all carry a Flap bag without compromising their individual style. 

One of the best things about classic couture is that it never goes out of style.  In 2001, Julia Roberts wore a stunning black and white Valentino vintage gown to the Oscars and never looked more fashion-forward on the stage.  That same year, Renee Zellweger wore a memorable canary yellow vintage Jean Dessès gown on the red carpet and stole the spotlight.  We love to see fashion preserved and unveiled in such beautiful ways.  There is something special about wearing vintage.  Knowing that you are sharing in the appreciation of exquisite craftsmanship and design keeps us connected to the past while enjoying the present.  That is our goal at Prince & Park.

As we come to the close of our Blog series on Fashion and Feminism, I want to thank all of you for following along with me each week.  I have loved researching and writing this series.  It is not often that you get to write about two subjects you are passionate about at the same time.  We owe a debt of gratitude to all the women who blazed the trail for us to enjoy freedom and equality in all aspects of life, including fashion.  I truly believe what Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  I could not be more proud to be a woman in the year 2017 and I hope all of you feel the same!  Be strong, be proud, and be as fashionable as you want to be!



 Louis Vuitton Trunk Bag


Chanel 2.55 Flap Bag (Traditional Style)

Chanel Classic Flap Bag (Spring 2016)


Julia Roberts in Vintage Valentino


Renee Zellweger in vintage Jean Dessès


Nell Merlino - Founder of "Take Our Daughters to Work Day"


Sources:  Vogue, Chanel, Louis Vuitton