The notorious clochette; a simple, yet vital, part of many luxury handbags. Translated, clochette is French for “bell”—which explains the bell-like shape that most are designed in. Fastened to the handle with a matching strap, these useful accents allow you accessorize in style. What is their true purpose, though? How did the clochette come to be such an important part of luxury bags?
Originally, and still in some cases, used to keep keys handy without damaging the exterior of the bag, many handbags with a clochette will also be accompanied by a functional padlock. Designed for travel purposes, iconic silhouettes from Hermes and Louis Vuitton are staying true to their heritage by including both a padlock and keys, as well as the fundamental clochette.
The Louis Vuitton Alma is a model that still best utilizes the feature. Initially designed as a Steamer bag for transatlantic travellers, the Alma was used to store clean linens from those already used. As a bag designed for those on the go, security was essential. Continuing on with the heritage design features today, the double zipper pulls each feature a hole that can be stacked on top of one another, allowing the provided padlock to loop in and keep the zippers securely in place. The clochette serves to discreetly allow entry to the bag while remaining at quick and easy access.
Similarly, what was first designed as the ideal travelling bag for Jane Birkin, the Hermes Birkin Bag also includes a practical arrangement of design elements ideal for travellers. The flap was imagined to fold over the opening, securing it in place with two sangles stacked atop one another at the plaque tips. A turnlock can then be rooted and secured with their classic H padlock. As with the Alma, keys are kept close-by in the coordinating clochette.
As most of these bags are not specifically used for travelling purposes nowadays, some brands have dispensed with the lock altogether, and evolved the clochette into a discreet key ring that can be used as a makeshift keychain. Prada’s popular Galleria Double Zip Tote is a prime example with its sleek matching clochette, and a divot designed into the bag to tuck the clochette into the leather should you opt to not have it hanging loosely on the side.
Easily removable, the clochette is another way to customize your bag to your liking. Many fashion houses now offer a personalization service in which you can add your initials on the accompanying clochette, either through a tonal heat stamp debossing, or a gold/silver foiling. Some bag lovers prefer to keep it looped around the handle freely, whereas others choose to put it aside for a more minimalist appearance.
The clochette is a small, but influential piece to many designer handbags, evolving and modifying as our needs change and styles shift.