Byline: Carmen Borgonovo

NEW YORK — Forty-five years ago, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel created what has become one of the Chanel brand’s most powerful and enduring symbols, the 2.55 shoulder bag.
The bag’s familiar quilted leather body and leather-laced chain strap was named for its February 1955 birthday, and was the focus of brunch celebrations at the Chanel flagship here April 10 and 11.
The 2.55 was not the first bag Chanel created. In 1929, she designed what is often said to be the first shoulder bag for women. It was inspired by a large, saddlebag-type pouch with a wide strap worn by members of the military.
The 1955 silhouette also allowed women to carry a handbag on their shoulders, freeing their hands to do other things.
But Chanel took the design further by adding such feminine touches as compartments for a lipstick and compact, and an inner zippered pocket that she deemed perfect for love letters.
Throughout the decades, the bag has been reinvented in everything from plush silks and suedes to a recent incarnation in denim.
In commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the 2.55, Chanel invited French artist Nathalie Leroc to create watercolor paintings of several lucky customer-owned Chanel bags and their contents. “A handbags says a lot about its owner,” said Leroc, “and its contents are a direct translation of their personality.”
In fact, Leroc is working on a book that is to include more than 1,000 whimsical watercolor renderings of women’s handbags and their contents.