This is an unboxing and full review of my CHANEL SMALL CLASSIC HANDBAG that I purchased at 31, Rue Cambon in Paris!
In the past I have structured designer review posts in a pro/con format.
This review, however, is going to be an exception. I can’t bring myself to speak badly about this stellar piece.
BLACK GRAINED CALFSKIN
DIMENSIONS: 5.7 x 9.0 x 2.3 in
WHY A CLASSIC
The classic handbag, often referred to as the classic flap or double flap bag, is the most iconic style of Chanel bags. It is one that is released each season and a bag that will never go out of style. The bags go up in price fairly often, thus truly making them an investment piece. Often times a Chanel classic bag is the first style that someone ads to their collection. I personally got my boy bag first (which I do not regret), but I knew if I ever got another bag I wanted a classic!
When you look at a classic handbag at a Chanel boutique the sales associate goes over a few key details with you that make the bag special. These design choices all relate back to Gabrielle Coco Chanel, the french designer who founded the brand. I
Coco Chanel designed her original bag (now referred to as the 2.55 Handbag) with a chain strap because she was inspired by the orphanage where she grew up. The workers there used to wear a similar chain to hold their keys/etc. She wanted the strap to resemble jewelry and allow women to be hands-free when carrying the bag. Apparently leather was woven into the strap later to help stretch resources. This is the version you see on Classic Handbags, like mine featured here.
The double flap was put on the bag to help deter pick pockets.
Coco Chanel added the small back open pocket so she could keep loose change there. She needed to be able to get to it easily to tip employees at The Ritz–the Parisian hotel she moved into and ended up calling home for some 30 years of her life. You can see her exact suite HERE. How amazing would it be to be able to stay there?! The pocket is referred to as the “smile pocket” because the shape resembles the soft smirk of the Mona Lisa.
The small pocket inside the bag that is nestled between the larger pockets was a spot that Coco Chanel specifically designed to house her lipstick.
The burgundy interior color is also a nod to the orphanage. It was the color of the uniforms. There is a span of years where they used black instead of burgundy here. It is said that the switch back to burgundy was made because it made it easier for people to see down inside the bag.
The tiny zip pocket on the inside of the flap was added by Coco Chanel so she had secure and discrete place to keep her love letters. It is a tiny pocket but I like that they continue to add it to each bag to honor Coco Chanel. To continue tradition, I keep a note Ethan wrote on a notepad and left on my bedside table one night in the pocket of my bag.
The first version of the classic bag (which is now referred to as the 2.55 handbag) was sold for $220. It was released in February of 1955, hence the “2.55” in the name!
The interlocking cc clasp was an added addition to the bag from Karl Lagerfeld. He was the creative director responsible for taking over the Chanel fashion house in 1983. Karl Lagerfeld passed away in February of 2019. We were actually in Paris on our honeymoon then, so I will always remember this bag purchase as a special one. The day he died I also bought a baseball cap from his own line, Karl Lagerfeld. I wear it all the time.
I think it is these personal and intimate design details from Coco Chanel that give the bag the allure that it has today. Each one is a nod to history.
WHAT FITS INSIDE
I am able to fit my card holder, camera or sunglasses, lipstick and phone inside. I love that the size is just big enough to get all my essentials inside. This makes it functional but also keeps it small enough so it can go with evening outfits/dresses. If you are looking for a bag to carry lots of extras in then you would need to size up.
WHERE I PURCHASED
I purchased my bag in Paris while we were there in February of 2019 for our honeymoon. There are many different stand alone Chanel boutiques in Paris. I knew I wanted to shop at one specific location though!
The very first Chanel store was the Rue Cambon location. It is the only location where you get a white box and bag with black writing with a purchase. Every other location gives black boxes and bags. The white box and bag from the original store also have the 31, RUE CAMBON address printed on them. Luckily, they had the exact handbag I was searching for in stock at that location when we visited! I was thrilled!!!
INTERNATIONAL BUYING EXPERIENCE
We went into a few different Chanel boutiques in Paris and the associates at each one were SO kind and helpful. It is a fairly formal experience. When you go into other luxury boutiques (Gucci, Fendi, Givenchy, etc etc) someone opens the door and greets you as you walk in and then you are able to wander around and browse. In the Chanel boutiques an associate approaches you after you enter and asks you what you are looking for. They will then take you to the correct section, seat you at a stool in front of the glass counter, offer you something to drink and bring out a bag from the cabinets for you to look at. Amazing, right?
Chanel prices can vary across countries. In my experience, when I converted the price listed on my bag in Euro to Dollars the amount came up less than what was listed on the US Chanel website.
Then there is the issue of tax. You can do research on this (google VAT tax) but the long and the short of it is that you either not be charged tax when you purchase in another country (I was not) or you will be charged tax but can get it refunded to you at the airport or to your credit card once you are home.
When you buy in a Chanel store you will need your passport and when you go to the airport you will need to allow for extra time to go through the VAT line.
After I bought my bag the associate warned us about security too. He advised us to stay inside the store until our ride arrived and to not go right outside and get distracted taking photos. Apparently some people come by and snatch bags. After all, the bold CHANEL shopping bag is a target haha!
I asked if the store would be able to ship my box and bag home for me since we were traveling and I did not have room in a suitcase for them. Unfortunately they are not able to ship empty boxes (and I wanted to keep my new purse with me to wear) so I took the box and bag to a shipping store and sent it home myself. The associate did tell me that if I ended up throwing away the box because I did not have space for it another boutique in the US would give me a new one if I explained and showed my receipt. So, FYI, that is an option but for me–there was no way I was leaving my box behind!
I recommend calling a boutique to ask any questions. This is what I did before purchasing my first Chanel boy handbag. They will be able to answer any and all of your questions 100% accurately and can look up inventory at specific locations.
I also suggest downloading the Chanel app. They do a good job of listing all products, prices and details on there when each season releases. I spend hours on there browsing ALL the time!
Buying pre-loved is a great option too. I have not personally done this, but I would like to in the future. I think it would be really neat to own a vintage gem from the 90s. (I have heard that the best quality bags come from that generation.) I’d also love to have some costume jewelry. I dream of a necklace with a bold Chanel logo! Here are some sites that I see people shopping on all the time that are authentic and great to browse.
FYI, items that are in good condition go fast so you have to be on the lookout and ready to pull the trigger if you want to get your hands on a good item.
If there are any details that I did not share that you want to know–please shoot me an email. I know what a huge decision a purchase like this is. I had so many questions and did so much research before buying mine so I am happy to help in any way that I can. Plus, there’s nothing that I love chatting about more than Chanel! xx