Financial Times (London) April 21, 2007 Saturday The resurgence of a classic By EDWINA INGS-CHAMBERS It's a cold, hard fashion fact that the Chanel 2.55 is the queen bee of handbags; that rare perennial thing (along with the Hermes Birkin and Kelly) among a host of other worker drones, bags striving to create seasonal honey before being cast off in favour of a new generation. This season the classic quilted leather 2.55 is once again, as so many times since Chanel created it in February 1955 (hence the name), the serious fashion maven's bag of choice. Indeed, editors and buyers have been surreptitiously building up collections of them, stacking up classics and limited editions with impunity. Natalie Massenet, founder of net-a-porter.com, for example, admits to owning two - one classic, and a sportier edition. "I want to make sure I don't miss an opportunity to wear a 2.55," she says. "It's a timeless, seasonless bag. Yes, it doesn't work if you're looking to do a big bag and a tote thing or work the downtown look, but if you want something chic, this is it. And I like to think that my daughters will be wearing it in 20 years' time." (This, please note, is no sales pitch; the website doesn't stock Chanel.) The bag has had ups and downs. A symbol of success and fashionability in the 1980s, its gold chain strap threaded with leather later rankled with more minimal Nineties sensibilities. But once the 1980s were rediscovered by a new generation, the 2.55 regained its rightful place in the handbag universe. This resurgence has undoubtedly been helped by the house's focus in the past two years on creating seasonal edits of the bag, and its reintroduction of the original, leather-free chain strap. Specials for this spring include a highly covetable Pounds 3,715 version covered with Chanel-inspired charms, and styles printed with the Union Jack, the Stars and Stripes or the French Tricolour (the bag, though classic, is not without humour). Still, the most essential reasons for the 2.55's dominance can be traced to its creator, Coco Chanel, a genius at understanding a woman's needs, and marketing them. Her ultimate bag was designed to meet all demands: diamond-quilted to ensure the leather would maintain its shape ("It has to have body," she insisted); black (caviar leather is best as calf leather is more prone to scratches); and multi-pocketed, some with flaps, some zipped and, to aid organisation, a small zip pocket intended to hide personal papers - in sum, practicality merged with romanticism. The 2.55 encapsulates the idea of luxury: still handmade, each bag requires 180 different procedures, takes four hours to complete and needs the expertise of some 15 people. Buzz, buzz.