Design School: The History of the Salvatore Ferragamo Gancini Symbol

The fastest way to identify a designer is often by their signature accents and logos (like the cannage design at Dior.) One of the better known symbols is the Salvatore Ferragamo Gancini logo. Shaped like a backwards horseshoe, the logo, also called Gancino, was first featured as the clasp of a handbag in 1969. Since then it has appeared on handbags, belts, shoes, and even as a print on ties and scarves.

The word Gancini in Italian is a small metal hook or clasp used to hang various objects.

The Company has a legend that the inspiration for the shape and design came from the wrought-iron gate of Palazzo Spini Feroni, where the Ferragamo business in Florence  resides. Others believe it was born in the 1950s when marketing strategies for “Made in Italy” products were being developed and a number of brands created distinctive symbols to set their designs apart.

Image from Polyvore.

Source Museo Salvatore Ferragamo and


Design School: The Origin of TOMS Shoes

It seems today that everyone knows about TOMS and loves them. While the philanthropic business model is both innovative and admirable, the design of the easygoing slip-ons, called alpargatas, has been around for centuries.

The founder of TOMS, Blake Mycoskie got the idea for the design while on a polo trip to Argentina, where it is common for polo players to slip on their alpargatas after matches. The alpargata is a form of espadrille that came out of the Basque region of Spain and France. Its origins are said to have started from the Ancient Egyptian sandal and altered by the Romans, who added full coverage to the top. Akin to the espadrille, the original alpargatas were made with woven jute and canvas.

While Argentina is one of the most prevalent locations to find alpargatas. The design is an import from Spain and was spread by Basque immigrants that landed in Argentina.  From there it was the Argentine gaucho (or cowboy), who loved the comfortable fit and easy design, that spread the look as they traveled. Today alpargatas can be found in the native dress of many South American countries.

Images: TOMS Shoes (above); an Argentine man wearing traditional garb, including alpargatas.

Sources: Alpargatas, Herald-Tribune, Paez Shoes

Image Sources: and Vogue Italia

Design School: The Origin of Dior’s Cannage Design

Christian Dior is one of the most influential designers, gaining fame in the 1940s and 1950s. On February 12, 1947 he debuted his first collection that changed fashion and his brand’s history forever. Deemed the “New Look,” Dior introduced soft shoulders, a nipped waist, and fuller skirts, giving women a more feminine look than the tailored cuts that were customary at the time.

While his collection brought a new and lasting silhouette to women’s wardrobes, it was the chairs in Dior’s salon, set out for the guests at that very first fashion show, that have their own special place in the fashion house’s history. In collaboration with Victor Grandpierre, Dior had selected the salon chairs that featured a rattan cannage design. These chairs followed a Napoleon III style and added to the grand ambiance, without taking any attention from the designs being presented. It wasn’t until six years later in 1953, that  Dior began experimenting with the chair’s cannage design eventually making it the packaging for his perfume L’Eau Fraîche. From then on the two warp and weft threads combined with two crossed diagonal threads became a symbol for the Dior house that still exists today in designs ranging from shoes and handbags to lipsticks and eyeshadows.

Images: Elle woman among the salon chairs in 1947,; Example of a Napoleon III salon chair,; handbag image from; all other Dior products from
Article Sources:;;

Design School: Origin of the Chanel Quilted 2.55 Bag

Perhaps the world’s most coveted piece of arm candy, the Chanel 2.55 has been a fixture in fashion for over 50 years. But there’s more to this bag than quilted leather and chain shoulder straps. As is often the case with Coco Chanel, there’s a story behind the design.

Coco Chanel first designed bags with shoulder straps in the 1920s. She was driven by her desire for a handsfree bag and took it upon herself to create one, borrowing her design from the straps she saw on soldiers’ bags. The 2.55 didn’t debut until Chanel made a comeback in the fashion industry in February 1955, which is why the bag is named such. Enduring and irresistible, the 2.55 traditionally features:

  • burgundy lining, inspired by the color of the uniforms at the convent where Chanel grew up
  • chain shoulder straps, inspired by the key chains the caretakers at the convent had
  • a zippered pocket not only intended for money, but also rumored to be where Chanel stashed love letters in her own bag
  • a back pocket for storing money
  • a Mademoiselle lock — a reference to the fact that Chanel never married. Modern Classic Flap bags sport a CC lock.
  • a quilted diamond pattern, said to be inspired by many sources: a jockey’s riding coat, stained-glass windows, and the cushions at Chanel’s own Paris apartment

Over the past half century, the bag has been re-imagined in a wide array of colors, textures, and materials. In February 2005, Karl Lagerfeld reissued Chanel’s original design, dubbing it the Reissue 2.55. The title applies only to that year’s reissued bags; bags with a CC lock are named Classic Flaps. However, all iterations of the bag are commonly called 2.55s.

And while you’re welcome to try your luck on eBay, your best bet for an authentic bag is buying one in-store. But that’s all the more reason to celebrate and make a day of your 2.55 purchase.

For more info, including differences between Reissue and Classic Flap bags, visit purseblog.
Image source: Chanel