If you’re looking for a new (or first) designer handbag, at a minimum you should be able to recognize the best designer handbag brands and their heirloom pieces. With iconic pieces dating back over a century, cult audiences and luxury materials, many of the best brands have successfully stood the test of time.

The handbag takes up more and more space. “Half a century ago, it was only worn at mass on Sunday. It contained, at best, a bottle of cologne, a missal and a handkerchief. The handbag has always been linked to the privacy of women, by its content, but also because, for a long time, the containers were pockets hidden under the skirts, close to the body. And if the interior is intimate, the exterior is displayed. It serves as both a social indicator and a shield. As for Grace Kelly, who, pregnant and harassed by the paparazzi, hid her rounded belly behind her Hermès.

Getting our little Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Prada or Versace piece of heaven has become something most girls (and boys) aspire to. When it comes to bags, parting with the hard-earned cash is something some of us won’t hesitate to think about.

The evolution of purses and bags

This initially utilitarian accessory has become a real fashion object and a summer trends for women, and alone represents nearly a third of global luxury sales. Back on the 2,000 year history of the bag.

Antiquity: the utility bag

From ancient Rome to the era of the Christian crusades, the drawstring purse, worn at the waist, is used by both men and women. It has a purely utilitarian vocation: to contain money.

Middle Ages: the era of chaplains

At this time when the poorest ask for alms in the streets, the rich sometimes plunge their hand not in their pocket – their clothes do not contain any – but in their small purse, to draw a coin there. In these religious times, pious mottos are often sewn on these purses where one also stores handkerchief, rosary, knife and other small objects. We also begin to decorate them, the more fortunate embroidering their purses with gold threads.

11th century: “sak” in goat hair

It was in the 11th century that the term handbag appeared and women started to wear a handbag with every occasion. The word bag derives from the Hebrew sak, which refers to a coarse cloth made from goat hair. In English, the word bag finds its origin in the term baga, which in Provençal designates all that relates to luggage.

18th century: reticles foreshadow the handbag

As fashion evolved, the dresses became lighter, closer to the body, like the empress dress, very refined, which appeared in 1790. Women then abandoned the bag worn at the waist, which risked damaging their appearance. silhouette. They turn to the pouch, often embellished with embroidery and pearls, called reticule, which is carried in the hand. These first bags are mocked by the press of the time, which qualifies them as “ridiculous”, because they highlight what was hitherto hidden. Over the years and fashions, the shapes of the bag vary: round or square, sober or richly embroidered, with pompoms, in silk or pearls, held by a chain, etc.

1920: mini bags and minaudières

The Roaring Twenties brought new dances: charleston, tango and jazz. In order not to burden yourself with a bag, the fashion is for mini-bags that fit in the hand. Women also adopt minaudières, small boxes luxuriously decorated in which they slip powder and mirror, and which often have a ring to pass on the finger to better hold in the hand.

1947: Gucci’s Bamboo

In 1947, Gucci manufactured, in its back room in Florence, Italy, its first handbag. Called Bamboo, or model 0633, this pigskin bag features a curved and burnished bamboo handle, fashioned in the style of traditional Piedmontese umbrella manufacturers, using heat and steam. It has 140 parts assembled by hand and is now available in many materials.

1955: Chanel imposes the shoulder bag

As with all of her creations, when Coco Chanel takes an interest in the bag, it is to make it an elegant but simple object and, above all, practical. Hence the idea of ​​adding a chain longer than what was done until then, allowing women to wear it no longer on the shoulder, from where it slips, but over the shoulder, and to remain free to wear it. their movements. Created in February 1955, the 2.55 is still a bestseller of the brand, constantly revisited.

What to look for in a designer handbag

Forget your assumptions because, whatever you may think, designer bags aren’t always limited to a recognizable label or specific patterns. These are high quality luxury pieces, made to last a lifetime. Here’s how to tell if you’ve picked a winning coin.

Timeless Designs

Yes, some old designers produce trendy seasonal bags with neon PVC and bold pops of color. But the best designers also offer several classic pieces that will take you up to speed in the coming decades. You can usually find a designer’s iconic bags by looking for neutral colors, timeless shapes, and the brand’s distinct craftsmanship. 

Stitching Points

The designers of luxury handbags pay special attention to every detail, including the tailoring. Stitches should be close together and clean, without fraying. The panels and the fabric must harmonize without interruption and without intersecting the patterns. Remember, quality often creeps into the details. There is nothing sadder than a designer bag that is literally falling apart. 

The Materials

These elements should give your bag a relatively heavy weight. All zippers, buttons, chain handles should be heavy, not scratched, and stay in place when you open or close them. 

The Fabric

Once you touch a Chanel Boy lambskin bag, you’ll know what it is. In general, luxury designers stick to natural fibers and high-quality leathers, such as lambskin and calfskin. Although some designers can also use alternatives to leather in their designs. 

The best designer bags

Hardly a day goes by that a celebrity walks out with the latest designer bag in full view of the cameras. Chanel? We can count on Meghan Markle, Sofia Vergara, Rihanna and Hilary Duff. Gucci? Hello, Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner. The Kardashian clan has covered every other brand, but which of Kylie Jenner’s $ 400,000 handbag collection is really worth it? Read below and find out which are the best designer bags for you.

Louis Vuitton

There is no doubt that Louis Vuitton is the most well-known name on this list. The brand, which made its debut in France at the end of the 19th century, is best known for its Speedy bag and Neverfull tote in printed Damier checks and LV Monogram in leather and coated canvas.

Although the fashion house is over 100 years old, the designs really don’t look like it. Louis Vuitton continues to keep the freshness of its bags firmly anchored in the 2000s fashion, hiring creative directors like Marc Jacobs and Virgil Abloh and collaborating with personalities like Supreme and Takashi Murakami.


As we said above, there is no better feeling than walking around with one of the soft bags of the Chanel brand in one of the many types of leather of the brand. The Parisian brand’s signature, the metal Turn-lock CC, quilted leather designs, and heavy silver and gold chains can be found in almost every favorite Chanel bag – like the Chanel’s Boy bag, earrings sparkly CC ears and wallets on chain (WOC) handbags.

Like almost every other designer cited here, Chanel continues to keep up to date with superfans like Kylie Jenner and a first collaboration with artist Pharrell. But without going overboard, the fashion house remains true to its more sober and simple roots and to its iconic designs.


Even those with the most basic knowledge of handbags can recite the four Gucci bags that the brand is famous for: the Dionysos, the Boston, the Marmot and the Soho Disco.

Each bag only exists with its own iconic features. The Dionysus features palladium hardware and a tiger head closure, while the Boston has a structured body and sturdy handles. The Marmot is known for its zigzag quilted leather exterior and gold GG ornament and the Soho Disco for its embroidered GG logo, box shape and whimsical pom pom. Aside from the classic bags, Gucci has tons of collectibles and collaboration pieces that you don’t want to miss.


You have heard of the Hermès Birkin bag. And you probably know one thing: this is one of the most expensive handbags in the world. But, like most bags of this caliber, it’s expensive and coveted for a reason.

The Hermès signed bag comes with gold or polished silver hardware, a swivel clasp, saddle stitching along its seams and, generally, a Hermès logo embossed above the closure of the bag. Although Hermes continues to reformulate this bag over the years, these elements remain constant.


Goyard card holders and totes continue to establish themselves as the most sought-after accessories around the world. And, of course, the brand’s rich history and attention to detail certainly play a role in its rise to fame. The luxury fashion house was founded in Paris in 1853. Much like Louis Vuitton, the founder of Goyard started out by making leather trunks, but then expanded into tote bags and other travel accessories.

Today, the fashion house is known for its Goyardine canvas. Goyard’s textile makers combine hemp, linen and cotton to create a unique water resistant material. Equally important is the characteristic print of the fabric, a herringbone print that comes in a range of vibrant colors.

Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent, also known as YSL, entered the Parisian fashion scene in the 1960s. Overloaded with experimental ideas (hello, the tuxedo!), Founder Yves Saint Laurent is often considered the first designer. from a brand for the modern woman.

Saint Laurent’s Niki, Kate, Envelope and Lou bags feature a large silver or gold ”YSL” logo on the front and center, plush quilted leather, heavy silver or gold chains and a structured appearance. While the Sac Du Jour satchel from YSL is characterized by smooth calfskin panels and durable handles.


Prada is present in everything from building a fashion empire, to organizing sailing races in New Zealand, to acquiring some of the world’s biggest brands and fashion designers, such as Helmut Lang and Jil Sander. Although Prada continues to expand into other verticals outside of fashion and accessories, its handbags continue to be an important part of the brand’s identity.

Like many of its peers, Prada started selling trunks and handbags in the early 1900s. But it was in the 1970s and 1980s that it evolved into the Prada we know today, when its designers launched its iconic nylon backpacks and totes.


You may have noticed Dior’s adorable bee motif as part of their collaboration with KAWS for their Spring / Summer 2019 collection. But, like most luxury handbag designers, Dior hasn’t always taken the party of pop-art. On the contrary, Dior is deeply rooted in French fashion, as evidenced by the shapes, patterns and fittings of its iconic bags.

The Lady Dior and Diorama bags showcase Dior’s penchant for quilted and geometric leather, and the heavy buckles, straps and chains exude luxury. The print of the “Dior” logo in canvas and the calfskin bags highlight the sporty side of the line with a large collection of card holders, belt bags and handbags.


Givenchy, headquartered in Paris and founded in 1952, began with a collection of casual skirts and blouses. But in no time, and with the help of famous fans like Audrey Hepburn, Jacquie O, and Elizabeth Taylor and a collaboration with Cristobal Balenciaga, she shot to stardom as early as the 1970s.

Decades later, Givenchy bags are flying off the shelves of luxury boutiques and department stores. Givenchy bags, like the Pandora, the Nightingale and the Antigona, feature sturdy handles, slender shapes and Givenchy logos.


Balenciaga is certainly best known for its legendary City Bags – one of the early 2000s “it” bags worn by the Olsen twins, Paris Hilton, and reality TV stars. The Lariat and City Bags are trendy, classic leather bags with heavy metal zippers and eyelets, multiple pockets and a relaxed box shape.

However, this Spanish fashion house is known for much more than that. Today, Balenciaga’s Ville, Triangle and Camera bags, often with “BALENCIAGA” written on the side panels, are bold and structured and take center stage among handbag lovers and fashion influencers.


This French brand’s feminine shapes, delicate chains, assertive closures and dreamlike pastel colors make Chloé’s iconic bags stand out in an endless sea of ​​dark leather handbags. And Chloe fans know it’s true, a Drew Crossbody or Pixie Waist Bag stands in stark contrast to designs from Balenciaga, Givenchy, Fendi, Chanel and Saint Laurent.

Even though Gaby Aghion launched Chloé in the 1950s with ready-to-wear and haute couture collections, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the brand produced a line of leather goods. Like most bags ubiquitous in this decade, Chloe’s designs quickly became “it” bags and stars like Sienna Miller wore them on their trips to town.


The Celine handbags are the exact shade of discreet luxury, with a dash of sporty minimalism, which was needed to propel this brand 70 years in the arms of celebrities and amateurs bags today. Creative Director Phoebe Philo, who left Celine in 2018, can take full responsibility for their success.

The brand is known for its iconic box shape, large gold-tone metal locks, and luxury fabrics, such as Amazon-colored lizard, silver calfskin, and supple, soft lambskin. You will find Céline’s iconic Box Bag and calfskin drum luggage bags in several sizes and colors.


Fendi has been around for almost 100 years and started out in Rome as a luxury leather and fur boutique. Like many older brands, it has undergone big changes over the years, such as the arrival of Karl Lagerfield as Creative Director, then her integration into the LVMH group in 2001, where she joined companies like Moët and Chandon, Christian Dior and Bvlgari, among others.

The brand has thus been able to develop a diverse audience while remaining faithful to its roots. So if you like sharp silhouettes, sporty logos, and brightly colored pops, but want a classic Fendi shape, you can check out the Fendi Bugs Micro Purple Wand. Or if you are looking for a quirky style, you can go for the Fendi Fur Monster Wand.


Valentino’s designs have never been shy. The Italian fashion designer is famous for his iconic red dresses, animal print runway looks, handbags, pumps and Hollywood glamor flats. Although the founder hosted his last haute couture show in 2008, his legacy of opulence and adventure lives on thanks to new Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli.

Handbag collectors today adore Rockstud bags which come in several classic shapes, like the Rockstud Shoulder Bag and the Rockstud Rolling Guitar.

Stella Mc Cartney

The youngest designer label on this list, Stella McCartney, has proven that you can create bags worthy of the bigger ones without using animal material. Its vegan-friendly styles can be found in the popular Falabella, Totes, Clutch, Box and Shoulder bags , which have a unique bell shape with a sharp edge. Before launching her own collection in the early 2000s, she worked for Christian LaCroix and Chloé.

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