Handbags - Expert's Pick

Expert’s Pick: Why I Love Vintage Chanel


I love bags, beautifully made bags, bags with character, bags that tell a story, bags with a heart. There is something inherently exciting, almost intoxicating about acquiring a bag pre-loved. A pre-loved bag is exactly as the name describes, a bag that has been loved before by whomever, it doesn’t matter because the life that bag led before, the secrets and stories it holds, are part of its framework. Once that bag is passed on, or purchased, even gifted to someone new, it starts a new adventure.

Some of the most beautiful collectable vintage bags are from the house of Chanel. Chanel bags are stunning and they are renowned for being the best in the luxury business, rivalled only by the house of Hermès. Personally, Chanel is my brand of choice, the luxurious leather, the distinctive CC hardware or even the understated glamour of the reissue turn style lock. Chanel commands and demands attention!

Rightly so, it’s an enigma. Bag trends come and go, yet the classic flap and the reissue have stayed holding steadfast in the halls of bag fame. A Chanel bag transforms an outfit, it adds pizzazz and excitement to a look. It can be worn by anyone in any way. A quick dash to the supermarket with a simple pair of jeans and tee or to a black tie ball dressed in all your finery.

The classic flap was invented by Karl Lagerfeld in the 1980s, not which most people believe by Coco Chanel. It’s hard for any handbag enthusiast to imagine a time before Chanel and their classic CC locks. But before Lagerfeld introduced this feature to Chanel bags they were somewhat logo free, having only the understated Mademoiselle lock. The current version of this bag was reintroduced in 2005 by Lagerfeld and named the Reissue. The classic flap has had many rebirths and the style has been twigged many times throughout the years. For example, until 2011 the classic flaps were made as both single and double flap bags. The single flaps being fantastic because of their lighter weight and considerably greater storage space, especially when compared to their double counterpart. Sadly today the single flaps have been discontinued and are now only available through pre-loved re-sale. Xupes currently have a collection of these in stock.

A personal Chanel style favourite of mine is the vintage version of the Chanel classic flap. The vintage Jumbos circa late 80s early 90s, those oversized sexy bags reek of glamour, of power suits and girl bosses, of men with attitude, those who only want or expect the best. The oversized gold CC of the vintage Jumbos being the show-stopping feature of this bag. I love that decadent style and this bag was my first Chanel bag. The bag that made my heart stop, the bag I sacrificed nights out and reduced myself to the unappetising fancy spaghetti hoops on toast so that I could bring my original dream bag home.

If you were to buy one bag, just one, this is the bag I would suggest; it’s big, it fits everything from laptops to iPads, umbrellas and most importantly for me a large variety of lipsticks.  It can be worn on the shoulder and crossbody, I use mine for nights out, to work meetings, lunch with the girls and even as a travel bag when going on holiday. Because of its extrovert style, it’s always a conversational piece, especially when meeting people for the first time. This bag is purely and simply the embodiment of Chanel and especially the era when Chanel is widely regarded to have been at its finest.

A personal favourite element of this vintage marvel as mentioned previously is its distinctive oversized CC turn style locks circa the 80s and 90s.The overlapping CC lock has had many tweaks to its original style the earlier models had a flatter design and a very oversized larger than life appearance. This is more reminiscent of the style of the 80s and compared to the current versions which are more understated. Personally, I prefer the larger style hardware this to me seems more classic more Chanel it has that wow factor.

Another important factor back when the Classic flaps were first introduced was hardware including the double CC locks were plated in 24k gold; this super luxurious element certainly added to its exclusive vibe and its desirability. Currently, at Xupes they have a wide range of vintage beauties with the original 24k gold hardware, including my personal favourite as mentioned above, the vintage jumbos in luxurious smooth lambskin.

The newer versions of the classic flap have been softened slightly the shape is not so boxy and the flap has been slightly rounded. It does still carry reminiscent features of its vintage relative, for example, the original Lagerfeld designed double Classic flap still holds many original features. The double flap, designed originally with Coco Chanel in mind, still holds the secret pocket hidden inside the first flap for her to hide her love letters. The interior of all the classic flaps other than seasonal colours are all made with the burgundy lining. The burgundy lining is to represent Coco’s convent orphanage school uniform. Sadly today the hardware is no longer plated with gold which makes the vintage classic flaps even more collectable.

If you ask any bag enthusiast they will whisper these words to anyone who wishes to hear ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ And what a true statement that is.

Discover more from Sarah Elizabeth on Xupes Magazine and her website For pre-loved Chanel buying options, you can visit Xupes.