Fact: In the pantheon of iconic, timeless handbags, Chanel‘s quilted flap-front, chain-strapped style tops all the rest. Designed by Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel herself back in February 1955 (hence its proper numerical style name, the 2.55), few updates have since been made to Chanel’s original creation—save for a switch from a subtle turnlock closure to the now-iconic interlocking double Cs (although in 2005, Chanel released the Reissue 2.55, a bag that’s practically identical to the 1955 original). The quilted beauty has been carried by everyone from celebrities like Lauren Conrad and Alexa Chung to television characters like The O.C.‘s ever-stylish Marissa Cooper—and every single fashion person either owns or endlessly covets this classic carryall. Trust me, I’ve asked around.
The only problem? This particular Chanel bag is expensive—really expensive. And according to our pals at Racked, the fashion house increases its prices by about 15 percent every year. Today, the medium classic flap bag in black lambskin rings in at $4,900—a full $500 more than it cost just one year ago, and nearly double what it cost in 2008. But the most shocking figure from Racked’s findings? In 1955, the year it was created, the 2.55 cost $220. Nope, that’s not a typo. To be sure, $220 was probably considered a hefty fashion investment back in the ’50s, but to see that one of our favorite high-fashion, four-figure-valued bags used to cost the same as what most non-designer leather totes cost now is pretty crazy. Click over to Racked to see just how Chanel prices have skyrocketed over the past few years, and tell us: would you shell out thousands for a handbag—albeit, arguably, one that you’ll be able to carry for the rest of your life?*
*Editor’s note: I can personally attest that vintage Chanel bags can be found for well under their retail value, if you’re willing to do some research and careful hunting (counterfeits abound, so be cautious). I love my pre-owned, jumbo-sized 2.55 like a child—and believe me, I did not pay almost $5k for it.