The Stories Behind Some of the Most Iconic Chanel Handbags

The astonishing worldwide influence of the Chanel brand 

For over a century Chanel, established in 1910, has wowed the world with its jaw-dropping haute couture creations. In particular, very few luxury brands can boast such an illustrious bag collection as this renowned French fashion house. Countless classic Chanel bags have graced the fashion runways while they have been endorsed by some of the most influential people in the world. They have even played prominent roles in films, such as the 2.55 bag touted by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

Chanel’s vintage bags have achieved legendary status. Easily identifiable, regardless of changing trends, they remain a timeless choice for Chanel enthusiasts and collectors. 

A surge of interest in rare eccentric novelty bags

With the appearance of Karl Lagerfeld in Chanel’s more recent history, the fashion house’s commitment to diversity has enabled the brand to forge new partnerships, resulting in the creation of much sought-after limited-edition bags that have gained ever-growing attention in the preloved market. Ranging from the extremely rare catwalk ‘Rocket Ship’ evening bag, made out of quilted resin and tassels with CC logo charms, to the ‘Hula Hoop’ flap bag, and from the ‘Conch Shell’ clutch to the ‘Milk Carton’ and  ‘Supermarket Basket’ bags, these scarce and unconventional pieces each have their own unique backstories. 

Designs that are long-lasting and highly coveted 

It’s staggering, but true: these stunning, high-end designer bags have outperformed more conventional investment options like stocks, bonds, and even gold in recent years. What’s more, the particularly venerated handbags have maintained their popularity and distinguished reputation despite Chanel’s introduction of new variants in finishes, features, materials, and designs. In a nutshell, the brand distinguishes itself from its rivals by producing designs that are universally admired and highly prized by both consumers and collectors alike. Because of their quality and enduring appeal, Chanel handbags frequently end up being cherished family treasures that are passed down from one generation to the next.

Chanel – a different kind of story

Entrepreneur Patrick Chan purchased a medium-sized, diamond-quilted, black caviar leather Chanel Classic Flap bag for his wife, Ng Shubing, to commemorate the end of her maternity leave and subsequent return to work. A few days later she returned to the shop to exchange it, in the hope of finding a bag in one of the lighter pastel colours that she preferred. However, the sales assistant successfully persuaded Ng to keep the black bag, explaining that it was a highly sought-after classic piece that was not easy to find.  The result – Ng purchased three additional Chanel bags on the same day. Today, Ng and Chan have accumulated a collection of approximately 70 luxury bags though they retain a passion for the timeless Chanel products. They have over 40 bags from the fashion house, 18 of them being mini flap bags, alongside other designs such as the Vanity Case, Chanel Boy, Coco Handle, and the highly sought-after Heart Bag of this season.

Finding and identifying authentic vintage Chanel bags

When looking for a vintage preowned Chanel bag, it’s important to ensure that you rely on reputable suppliers who have authenticated the pieces. The counterfeit industry is thriving and there are numerous sophisticated set-ups that have become highly skilled in the art of imitation. Some indicators are more obvious than others. For example, are your matelassé and quilting stitches matching up at the seams? Check the branding ‘Made in Italy’ or ‘Made in France’ – they should be stamped directly onto the lining or an attached leather patch. However, even if you’re looking at an authentic Chanel, you might notice that the silver leafing has worn off, changed colour, or nearly disappeared. Importantly, a previous owner may have repaired or altered a vintage Chanel bag before selling it to you, which could affect its value. So before you buy, make sure you pay close attention to such tell-tale features as the weight of the hardware and the overall quality of the leather and the lining. 

The preloved market is an excellent place to acquire a rare Chanel bag but there can be pitfalls, so be sure to protect yourself by buying from a reputable dealer.

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