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Meet the Holy Grail(s) of Chanel Handbags

We’re all familiar with Chanel’s most iconic handbags: the 2.55, Classic Flap, Boy and - since this year - the Chanel 19. These timeless styles are the linchpins of any bag lover’s collection – but there are some especially rare releases in Chanel’s illustrious history that make our hearts beat that little bit faster when they pass through our studio at SACLÀB. Here are our top ten Chanel collector’s pieces to add to your wishlist. If you happen to find one on the secondhand market...snap it up! Susannah Wilkinson

The Graffiti Collection

When: Spring/Summer 2015

Why it’s a collector’s piece: Karl Lagerfeld’s collection of graffiti-sprayed canvas backpacks and totes gave the signature Chanel look a streetwear spin: think stencilled CCs and quilting, bright braided tassels and frayed edging. It’s a quintessential Karl design – a daring reinterpretation of the fashion house’s iconic branding that somehow just works. The backpack predictably became the It-bag of the summer, snapped up the likes of Kristen Stewart, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus. 

Budget: €2,500–5,000

Chanel Graffiti Cabas Canvas Multicolor Saclàb

A 2014 Chanel Graffiti Cabas Canvas Multicolor on Image: SACLÀB/Prisma Compositional

Brocade Timeless Bag

When: 1990s

Why it’s a collector’s piece: SACLÀB co-founder Oliver Stueck pinpoints this pretty-in-pink creation as a particularly uncommon discovery on the secondhand market. Crafted in floral brocade – a lustrous woven fabric dating back to the Middle Ages – with a delicate gold thread running through it, the Brocade Timeless is truly exquisite. Pink is the most popular shade, but the bag also comes in a blue/black colourway. 

Budget: €3,000

Chanel Timeless Jumbo Brocade Rose Silk Limited Edition

The one-of-a-kind Chanel Timeless Jumbo Brocade Rose Silk Limited Edition. Image: SACLÀB/Prisma Compositional

Vintage Vanity Case with Handle

When: 1990s

Why it’s a collector’s piece: The Vanity Case bag is a perennial Chanel favourite, but it’s the original incarnation that collectors hanker after. Released in the ‘90s, this small, square vanity case with a delightfully puffy handle and large diamond quilting was ideal for carrying cosmetics when travelling. You can also find ‘90s vanity cases with a stiff chain handle, but the former variety is more valuable. Today, the vanity case comes with a shoulder strap, to be used as a cross-body bag – an important distinction to know when you’re searching for the ‘90s version.

Budget: €2,500–4,000

Chanel Collectors Item Vanity Case from the Nineties Side

A bright pink Chanel Vanity Case from 1994 with a gold-plated chain top handle on Image: SACLÀB

Paris-Shanghai Matryoshka Doll Minaudiere

When: Fall 2010

Why it’s a collector’s piece: Chanel’s annual Métiers d’Art collection is an opportunity for the house’s many skilled ateliers to showcase their craft. Centred around a different city each year, these demi-couture creations are often instantly collectable. This intricate matryoshka doll minaudiere, made from enamel, lucite and crystals, was produced for the Paris-Shanghai collection in 2010 as an opulent tribute to Chinese culture. Another doll was created for the Paris-Bombay Métiers d’Art collection in 2011, but it’s this version which has proved the most desirable amongst collectors. 

Budget: €20,000

Chanel Metier's d'art Paris shanghai Paris-Shanghai Matryoshka Doll Minaudiere

Chanel’s Pre-Fall 2010 show. Image: Vogue Runway

The So Black Series

When: Late ‘00s onwards

Why it’s a collector’s piece: Like their Hermès equivalent, Chanel’s super-chic So Black bags are incredibly popular on the secondary market. Made with jet-black leather and blackened metal hardware, Chanel first introduced their So Black line towards the end of the ‘00s, and production is very sporadic – making them a rare and exciting find. Most commonly, you’ll find So Black editions of the 2.55 and Timeless Classic.

Budget: €4,000–5,000

Chanel 2.55 226 So Black Aged Calfskin Front

A super-rare Chanel 2.55 226 So Black Edition on Image: SACLÀB

Runway Limited Editions

When: Every season

Why it’s a collector’s piece: The late Karl Lagerfeld always had a penchant for putting on a show – and nowhere could that be seen more than in his immersive runway productions for Chanel. From spaceships to supermarkets, Karl’s sets were fantastical and fabulous in equal measure, and the bags that were produced for them are no exception. Often crafted in plexiglass, Chanel runway bags offer irreverent riffs on each show’s theme, and some in particular have garnered a cult following. Look out for the ‘Lait de Coco’ milk bottle minaudiere, the Chanel No.5 perfume bottle evening bag, and the candy-coloured Lego clutches. 

Budget: €3,000–15,000

Chanel Première Minaudière Clutch Metal Plexiglass Black Silver

A rare Chanel Première Minaudière Clutch Metal Plexiglass Black Silver on Image: SACLÀB/Prisma Compositional

First Edition Boy Bag

When: Fall RTW 2011

Why it’s a collector’s piece: When Karl Lagerfeld introduced the Boy Bag in 2011, it quickly found its way into the Chanel handbag hall of fame. Named after Boy Capel, Coco Chanel’s paramour, the Boy Bag injected a shot of youthful, punkish attitude into the historic fashion house. It’s now a permanent and important fixture in Chanel’s seasonal bag offering, however, Oliver recommends looking out for the first edition Boy Bag as a future collector’s item. It features a slightly different clasp at the front, and no diamond quilting.

Budget: €3,000

Fall2011RTW_Chanel Boy

Chanel’s Fall’11 Ready-To-Wear show. Image: Vogue Runway

Flap Bag with Large CC Clasp

When: 1990s – 2004

Why it’s a collector’s piece: For those who love a vintage vibe, this now-discontinued Jumbo Flap Bag is a fabulous find on the resale market. Last produced in 2004, the large, golden CC clasp on the front gives it retro appeal. It’s the perfect investment for someone looking for a classic Chanel bag with a hint of ‘fashion insider’ prowess. 

Budget: €2,500–3,000

A true collector’s find: the Vintage Chanel Jumbo Calfskin Black. Image: SACLÀB/Prisma Compositional

Pearl On Flap Bag

When: Spring/Summer 2019

Why it’s a collector’s piece: It’s easy to see why the retail price of this Chanel beauty has already doubled since its release. The black leather acts as a dramatic backdrop to a generous sprinkling of luminous pearls, a signature of the brand. It’s important to note that this style was an update on the less-valuable Pearly Flap Bag that was produced in 2015 – where the pearls are more spaced out. A hit on Instagram, this is a true treasure on the secondhand market.

Budget: €4,000-6,000

Spring Summer 2019’s Chanel Pearl On Flap Bag. Image: Bragmybag

Lucky Charm Series

When: 2007 onwards

Why it’s a collector’s piece: What’s not to love about this characterful carryall? Chanel’s delectable Lucky Charm bags, first produced in 2007, are embellished with whimsical trinkets which have evolved with each release – from glittering ‘Coco’s to padlocks and perfume bottles. The most popular version is the Chanel Reissue 2.55 in black leather with all-over charm embellishment, but we also love this Timeless style, where the charms dangle from the chain strap. 

Budget: €6,000

Chanel Timeless Medium Patent Coral Limited Edition SACLÀB

A Chanel Timeless Medium Patent Coral Limited Edition available on Image: SACLÀB/Prisma Compositional

Honourable Mentions

Though less specific in terms of year or style, there are a few materials that Chanel occasionally dabbles in which are always prized amongst collectors. When you’re scrolling through your secondhand sources, keep your eyes peeled for 2.55 and Timeless bags that are made in velvet, denim or wicker.

Chanel Timeless Medium Velvet Fuchsia

As soft as it can get: a rare Chanel Timeless Medium Velvet Fuchsia on Image: SACLÀB/Prisma Compositional

Chanel Timeless Flap Medium Jeans Blue

A hand-dyed Chanel Timeless Flap Medium Jeans Blue from Karl’s legendary Dubai-themed 2015 Cruise collection. Image: SACLÀB/Prisma Compositional

Chanel Timeless Picnic Wicker Red Saclàb

An exceptional Chanel Timeless Picnic Wicker Red from 2001. Image: SACLÀB/Prisma Compositional

Header image: dpa/Alamy Live News

What’s your dream Chanel bag from our top ten collector’s pieces? Let us know what’s on your wishlist and we’ll track it down for you!


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