There are a number of classic fashion pieces that are seen as ‘timeless.’ Some examples include the Chanel Tweed Jacket, Hermes Birkin Bag, Cartier Love bracelet, and Burberry Trench Coat. However, many of these pieces have evolved over the years since their creation.
How have these pieces evolved while being ‘timeless.’? Some of these pieces underwent minor changes but transformed as fashion continues to do. As the world of fashion progresses, the designs must keep up as well, both new and classic, in order to properly serve the needs of fashion culture. New clasps, new leather, new cuts will continue to change, even on the most classic of pieces as functionality and luxury advance. The metamorphosis of fashion will continue forever.
The CHANEL Jacket
In 1925 Gabrielle Chanel began her experimentation with tweed jackets for women. Prior to her creation, tweed was the societal norm for menswear. Her design was inspired by her relationship with Duke of Westminster at the time.
In 2023 there are hundreds of tweed jacket styles that range from cropped to drop shoulder to buttonless to many more variations which are now overseen by designer Virginie Viard, Creative Director of Chanel. Today, the Chanel tweed jacket is instantly recognizable and remains a staple piece of classic fashion, despite the changes, just as it was in the 1920s.
The Hermès Birkin
The Hermès Birkin, named after actress Jane Birkin, was first designed in 1981 and brought to life in 1984. The idea began after the actress told designer Jean-Louis Dumas, Chief Executive of Hermès at the time, that there was not a proper bag made to hold everything a woman needs. Features of the new design included a swivel clasp, Hermès’ saddle stitching, and a nice plaque.
Although the design of the bag has not drastically changed as it has proved functionality, there has been much creative divergence in size, leathers, colors, accessories, etc. as the bag adapts to fashion uniquity leading up to 2023. One change in design that the brand decided to make is using precious metals and diamonds for hardware, making the Birkins more exclusive as they now make up five out of the ten most expensive bags in the world.
The Cartier Love Bracelet
Created in 1969 by the Italian designer Aldo Cipullo, the design of the iconic bracelet was inspired by medieval chastity belts and the concept of being “locked in”. This semi-permanent jewelry was only allowed to be purchased as a gift and can solely be removed with a screwdriver that was relinquished to the partner.
This piece has played a large role in the metamorphosis of fashion as a whole. Jewelry had previously been intended to enhance fashion and be interchangeable,whereas the concept of this classic piece was that it would become an everyday necessity due to the locks. Today, the bracelet is less known for its original meaning of being “locked into love”, and is now more of a collectible piece along with the complete Love collection of earrings, cufflinks, pendants, and more.
The Burberry Trench Coat
This coat was created with the intention of being a wardrobe necessity and a prime piece for water and wind resistance. In 1879, the coat was a functional piece good enough for soldiers to wear down in the trenches (hence its name).
Today, although this coat has functional parts, the metamorphosis of its main responsibility has gone from weather protection to being a staple in a timeless fall/winter wardrobe. The coat has since become iconic and has many variations that are not as functional in 2023 as they were in 1879, although beautifully artistic.
Written by Audrielle Tackett