I had a love-hate relationship with the Gabrielle when it first came out; I couldn’t decide whether I found it ugly, boring, or genius — I was very conflicted. It took me two press trips with the bag on loan to realise how practical it was — and that won everything. I could stuff my life into it: laptop, camera, wallet, phone, makeup bag, change of clothes (no, really). In fact, this weekend, I’m going on a 24-hour food journey to Hong Kong, and the Gabrielle Hobo (in the large size) is all I’m taking with me (I can imagine my friend Kevin Cheng ringing in my head, “so daring!”)…
This year, Chanel announces a new bag design called “31”. That’s the number on Chanel’s famous address in Paris (31 rue Cambon), and it’s also a reference to the famous French expression, “se mettre sur son 31”, which translates in English to “dress to the nines”. While it wasn’t apparent to me how much I would come to love the Gabrielle bag, it’s very clear that the 31 is going to be a smash hit in my wardrobe. This is what the (soon-to-be) classic all-black version looks like:
First impression: it’s a tote with built-in handles, and two shoulder straps. But wait. Fold it over in half, and it instantly transforms into a chic clutch.
Left: chanel cruise 2018-19 / right: chanel fall-winter 2018-19 (press kit by karl lagerfeld)
It’s a multi-functional bag; it can be casual and cool, or classy and sophisticated. A bag that — as the clichéd saying goes — can take you from day to night. But really, this one can. Here’s the all-black in a large size on the Fall-Winter 2018-19 runway:
chanel fall-winter 2018-19
Here’s the same bag in another colour combination, folded over like a takeaway lunch and tucked under the arm:
The straps can be hidden within the bag, or draped over just like this:
You can fold it the other way to show the snap buttons too. Also, notice this one has a chain strap:
And the way the bag is designed, you know the brand is going to have a field day with two-tone colour combinations and a play on fabrics.
My personal favourite is this one from the Cruise 2018-19 collection:
chanel CRUISE 2018-19
I had to do a double take to see that it was the same bag as those large ones from the Fall-Winter catwalk. When it’s smaller in size and folded flat, it looks like a completely different bag. Although I do wonder how it will look stuffed with my wallet, phone, makeup, candy… (probably not as sleek). Also, I’ve yet to see what it looks like as a shoulder bag, and whether the straps are long enough to wear cross-body. Either way, I’m glad there’s an option to be hands-free.
The Chanel 31 Bag will be available in boutiques from mid September 2018. Prices start from $4,860 for the 31 bags with the printed fabric.