Enjoy free worldwide shipping SHOP NOW

The Chanel Vanity Case Deep Dive

SACLÀB ICONS
Looking to stand out in a sea of 2.55s and Boy Bags? Chanel’s line of Vanity Cases offers an enchanting alternative to the classic Chanel silhouette. First introduced in the ‘90s, this ever-evolving family of bags has in recent years exploded in popularity with the launch of the Chanel Filigree Vanity Case — a typically chic twist on an accessory that dates back to Ancient Egypt. Before you take the plunge on a Chanel Vanity Case for yourself, read our essential guide to the different styles, sizes and rarities to search for. Text by Suzannah Wilkinson

An ancient accessory

Decorative boxes for cosmetics and toiletries have been around since ancient times — a vanity case containing a hand mirror, perfumes and ointments was even found in the 3,000-year-old tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh. In 14th-century France, a ‘travelling box’ to store items for personal grooming was an essential accessory for any journey. By the 18th century, these boxes had evolved into ornate, luxury items called ‘nécessaires de voyage’. Nécessaires were ingeniously crafted, with multiple compartments and tiers to store everything a lady or gentleman would need on their travels. Such dressing cases became increasingly popular with the masses during the 19th and 20th centuries, and finally gave rise to what we now recognise as the vanity case.

The Chanel vanity makeover

It was, naturally, the great Karl Lagerfeld who was behind the next evolutionary leap of the vanity case. Inspired by the retro-glamorous designs of the ‘50s and ‘60s, Karl reinvented the vanity case for a new generation, transforming it from travel accessory to everyday handbag. Unlike other Chanel handbag styles, there are a real variety of Chanel Vanity Case iterations to be found on the secondary market, but they all have certain hallmarks in common: a boxy shape, a zip that goes all the way around its perimeter and a short top handle.

A 1994 bubblegum-pink patent leather Chanel Vanity Case

‘90s rarities

The first Chanel Vanity Case handbags were released in the early ‘90s. These original designs were more closely aligned with the traditional look of a vanity case: a petite, cuboid box of diamond-quilted patent leather with a wraparound zip and fixed top handle.

Chanel 1995 Vintage Vanity Case
Chanel Spring/Summer 1995 via Vogue Runway

Karl also designed circular and heart-shaped Vanity Cases with a supersized CC logo at the front and curved chain-link top handle — these models are particularly rare and command prices as high as €25,000–35,000 on the secondary market. 

Chanel 1995 Vintage Heart Bag
A 1995 Vintage Chanel Heart Vanity Case via Farfetch.com

The Filigree Vanity Case

The SS16 ‘Chanel Airlines’ runway show, which saw the Grand Palais turned into the chicest airport terminal the world had ever seen, provided the perfect opportunity for Karl to revisit the vanity case. His new design, since nicknamed the Filigree Vanity Case by collectors, saw the style playing up to its globetrotting heritage, with a suitcase-like rectangular shape and two luggage tags hiding a CC charm and key. 

Chanel Silver Vanity Case
Chanel SS16 Silver Vanity Case. Image: Imaxtree

The Filigree Vanity Case has been a runaway hit for Chanel, and is now part of its regular stable of bags, reinvented each year in a dazzling array of colours and materials.

Details and sizes

The Filigree Vanity Case has quilted leather panels on the front and back surrounded by a ribbed border, giving the bag a reassuringly sturdy structure. It has a long chain and leather shoulder strap alongside a curved top handle. The large CC logo at the front can be decorated with chain-link detailing, or simply have metal tips. It has a wraparound zip, which opens up a roomy, leather-lined accordion interior with two main compartments and a zipped pocket. 

Chanel Vanity Case Red
Chanel Vanity Case Small Caviar Red

The bag comes in three regular sizes: small (measuring 17cm across), medium (21cm) and large (24cm). The small size has the perfect proportions for a cross-body bag, and just about fits your phone, lipstick, cardholder and keys. The medium size sits shorter on the body and is more spacious, accommodating a larger wallet and makeup bag. It also contains card slots. The large Filigree Vanity Case is capacious enough to even fit an iPad mini, and also has the pleasing ability to open up fully like a suitcase, revealing a compartment with an extra slip pocket and detachable mirror. You can button this compartment so it doesn’t fall open every time you unzip it.

Chanel Vanity Case sizes
Chanel Vanity Case sizes
Chanel Vanity Case Sizes
Size cm
Chanel Vanity Case Small 17 x 13 x 7 cm
Chanel Vanity Case Medium 21 x 16 x 8 cm
Chanel Vanity Case Large 24 x 17 x 10 cm

Rarities

The Filigree Vanity Case’s playful design has invited endless experimentation from Chanel. In 2019, as part of their beach-themed spring/summer show, they released this rattan style with a luxe gold trim — dubbed ‘the lunchbox’ by some. They’ve also experimented with iridescent patent leather with a transparent PVC front for a futuristic finish. Amongst the more classic iterations of the bag, the Filigree Vanity Case in beige caviar leather with a black trim is prized amongst Chanel lovers for its iconic two-tone colour combination.

A pre-loved small Chanel Vanity Case in Beige Straw and Gold Leather on SACLÀB
Chanel Vanity Case Small Straw/Calf Beige/Gold

Prices

For a Filigree Vanity Case in a standard leather such as caviar, you can expect to pay in the region of €2,500–4,000 on the secondhand market — like this exquisite medium silver bag for €3,830. For rarer models, budget for around €4,500.

The Vanity With Chain

If you prefer the vintage vanity case silhouette, search for a Chanel Vanity With Chain instead. These sophisticated styles are more box-like in shape, with the zip placed around the top of the bag. As well as a top handle, they have a long chain and leather strap, and a very minimal, open interior, with a mirror built into the lid. They can be just as playful in design — case in point, this picnic-ready wicker number — but you’ll often find the Chain Vanity in classic jet-black leather, like this micro delight. Prices are roughly €2,500–3,000 secondhand for a standard version, depending on the size and shape.

Chanel Vanity with Chain
Chanel Vanity with Chain. Image: Imaxtree


Ready to choose your Chanel Vanity Case? Let us know what style, size and colour are on your wishlist, or shop all pre-owned Chanel bags.


Share

Looking to sell your designer handbag?
Get an offer today and start selling
Sell your bag

More stories

My account
New customer?
Complete your account registration to:
  • Review and track your order
  • Take part in our referral scheme and reserve any bag

Invite & Earn

X
Signup to start sharing your link
Signup