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My Top 3 Favourite Vintage Chanel Bags of All Time

A client once asked me, "There are literally hundreds to thousands of vintage Chanel bag designs. How would I know what to choose?"

I believe this is a concern that many ladies have: the fear of spending an entire month's wage on an ill-fitting purchase that makes you feel regretful and queasy. An extreme sense of discomfort that eats into you and leaves you mulling over your choice for days. One that makes you wonder "How on earth did I decide on this?" or "Didn't I realise how impractical it was?" or even "How could I have purchased it without thinking about my existing wardrobe? This doesn't even match most of my clothing".

I know that fear.

Back then, I shared the same phobia when contemplating my first bag. My first vintage Chanel was not the most classic/typical model. I know I've shared in my first blogpost that the vintage classic double flap is a supreme investment, but that was not what caught my eye back then. What captivated me was . . .

This vintage Chanel caviar tote made in the 1992-1994 era.

Ignore the very tempting picture of the waffles and ice cream. Focus on the bag. :') This, ladies and gentlemen, remains my NUMBER 1 FAVOURITEST (if there is such a word) VINTAGE CHANEL of all time.

Those were the days when I was unsure why I even liked this bag. Those were the days when I was still in a state of self-doubt minutes after my purchase. Those were the days when I was still grappling with my sense of style and identity, and wondering if this bag was a tad too mature for my age. So why did I still choose this as my first vintage purchase then?

Those were the days (4 years ago) when a caviar-skinned tote cost only SGD1700, with all its glory of the full set (Chanel box, chanel dustbag, hologram sticker, authenticity card). Fast forward to today and the exact same model now - with the identical accompanying accessories - costs SGD2500 on pocket-friendly sites like Carousell and Reebonz Closets, and minimally SGD3000 in preloved luxury stores and pawn shops. Essentially, if I were to sell my bag now, I can easily make back more than what I had previously blown, stemming from the price appreciation over the years.

Pardon me! Image is blur because this was an inpromptu shot with a low-resolution phone camera

However, I didn't buy this back then due to its potential rise in value. I actually bought this because of

1) its spacious interior capacity and adequate compartments,

2) its boxy, clean-cut structure and sleek, streamlined, oversized CC logo (which has been a discontinued feature in modern Chanel bags), as well as

3) the caviar leather used in the body of the bag and the 24k gold plated hardware of the chains and turnlock

This brings me to the 3 basic considerations that should guide your thought process when deciding on the best vintage Chanel bag for yourself.

1) Practicality (Size of bag, number of interior/exterior compartments, weight)

2) Design (What look are you hoping to achieve? Casual? Corporate? Feminine? Professional etc)

3) Material (Leather: Caviar/lambskin/denim/canvas/patent/ostrich/crocodile/calfskin & Hardware: Gold/silver/ruthenium etc)

You can take my word for it - these three aspects will continue to remain crucial and relevant to all women, especially when you're forking out thousands of dollars and hoping that the investment is of lasting, good use to you.


The vintage Chanel 10 inch Classic Double Flap Bag

My personal piece is a 3-series treasure from the 1995-1997 collection.

In terms of design, this takes the cake. The classic continues to be produced today, with its iconic double flap feature that enhances the classy and aesthetic quality of the bag. What really captures and retains the hearts of many ladies, though, is the diamond quilting that runs consistently across the frontal and back surfaces of the bag. It is for this reason that many designers have tried to imitate the perfectly symmetrical quilts in their own bag labels.

The classic flap is also known for its versatility - to this day I have clients purchasing it for work, wedding dinners, formal functions, date nights with their significant other and the list goes on. It is feminine, professional, and luxurious-looking all at once.

In terms of practicality, the classic loses out to its tote counterparts. Its interior boasts a beautiful burgundy lining, but has only two mini compartments that are rather flat and restricted in space. Most of my buyers choose not to utilise these pockets at all, unless they have really small and random items like receipts and name cards.

Interior of the vintage classic flap

Material wise, I have come across both lambskin and caviar classic flaps, but have chosen to keep the lambskin version for myself. I'm not sure about you, but to me lambskin exudes an air of elegance and grandeur. I like the soft touch and bounce of lamb leather, especially when it has been well maintained and remains supple and buttery when you run your fingers over it.


The vintage Chanel 9 inch Diana Flap Bag

The Diana flap made its earliest appearance in 1992 and stayed around for a good 7-8 years till just before the turn of the century. Specifically, 9 inch Diana flaps were made between the years 1992 and 1999.

Design: The model is best known for its unique and exclusive border that offers a pretty break between the diamond quilts. Sandwiched right in the middle of the border is the statement CC turn lock that fits in there so naturally. This bag was named after Princess Diana, who was spotted carrying it previously! See below:

Princess Diana with her 9 inch vintage Chanel Diana Flap
Isn't she elegant and sophisticated?

Practicality: The 9 inch Diana may be an inch shorter than my second favourite bag (the 10 inch classic double flap above), but boasts similar capacity owing to its single flap feature. It is also slightly taller and can therefore fit an additional lipstick and the like. Compared to the 10 inch Diana which is much more spacious (can fit a long wallet, a phone, powder & lipstick), the 9 inch fits less but appears to be a more compact and lighter bag that offers ease of use. On most Asian women's heights, silhouettes and body proportions, the 9 inch also appears a little more pleasing to the eye. However, if you're taller than 165cm, perhaps the 10 inch makes a better fit.

Material: Diana flaps come in caviar and lambskin versions, but the caviar ones tend to be a lot more rare and limited in supply. If you are looking for a caviar piece, be prepared to pay more than SGD5000. Lambskin pieces are more reasonably priced, in the range SGD2950-3500 (for 9 inch ones) and SGD3300-SGD3900 (for 10 inch ones), once again depending on the condition + accessories intact. While I have come across a few caviar pieces since I first started curating and selling, I have still selected the lambskin Dianas for myself due to the value-for-money factor and timelessness of lamb leather, which was the original type of skin used to make Chanel flap bags. Authenticity and originality at their best!

To sum up, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing your first vintage Chanel bag, or deciding on which Chanel bags to retain in your existing collection. The 3 factors that we have recommended are mainly guidelines which we ourselves follow.

A general piece of advice though, is that maintenance and adequate usage are required to keep your vintage pieces in clean, tip-top condition and to minimise/prevent the growth of mould. Storing them in your closet for months without exposing them to the natural environment outside or an air-conditioned place will quicken the deterioration of the leather and hardware.

Class | Exclusivity | Heritage: It begins with us.



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