Its name might immediately betray its masculine qualities, but if ever there was a time that was ripe for the launch of a women's bag with a mannish lean, Chanel did well to pick this one. After all, this is a period in which a masculine undertone permeates through much of women's fashion; an undertone that we only expect to strengthen as 2012 approaches, bringing with it an expected 1930s revival. There's another fact revealed: this masculine undertone is not modern or futuristic, nor based on an experimentation with androgyny. Instead, it's a masculine undertone that carries with it heritage appeal. And few fashion houses do heritage as well as Chanel.
So it is that masculine qualities merge with heritage appeal to shape one of Chanel's autumn / fall 2011 offerings: the Boy bag.
Inspired by a hunters' cartridge bag carried by Coco Chanel, though striking my eye as also having the appeal of a bakelite clutch from the opening of the 20th century, the lack of overt femininity in the Boy Chanel seems clear from the moment you lay eyes on it. It's lines are strong, its hardware embellishments not slight. To be certain this isn't a gent's bag, thrown over his shoulder or across his chest it would look out of place, but nor is it of the quilted, visually soft standard that many a Chanel bag has been coveted for. Chanel have a term for it, they say they're avoiding the feminine cliches.
They're not avoiding the expected heritage ones though. The contrast of silvered and gold metal is all aged, the large chain seems already loved. It's not that the Boy Chanel bag seems at all pre-used (its glazed calfskin has too flawless a finish for that) but that each of the bags might have been lovingly kept at the back of a Chanel store in Paris and recently dusted off to again be presented to the world.
As is to be expected, designer Karl Lagerfeld has his own take on the heritage and masculine edges that are to be found in the Boy Chanel stating that "Chanel used men's underwear to make dresses; she had this boyish attitude, in fact it is the very spirit of Chanel. She got it from Boy Capel, the great love of her life, which, incidentally, explains why the new bag is called the Boy Chanel."
Produced in three sizes and available in a flat red, deep black, intense grey, lead green and brilliant ivory, Chanel's Boy Chanel bags will be available from Chanel boutiques from September 2011.