The Chanel Vanity Case, An Era’s Most Coveted Design
This post was originally published on sothebys.com.
Karl Lagerfeld’s Inspired Creations
Ingenious designer Karl Lagerfeld was a master of creation, thoughtfully linking his novel ideas with the historical legacy of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. Thus, as the self-declared “channeler of Coco,” Lagerfeld stayed loyal to her most iconic designs, seamlessly adapting them for the modern woman. When Karl Lagerfeld took the reins of Maison Chanel in 1983, the success of his vision was immediate, as he inserted ready-to-wear into popular culture and restored Haute Couture to its former glory. In combining the allure of his own persona with that of Coco’s, Lagerfeld preserved Chanel’s image as the ultimate luxury brand. As such, the tremendous range of Lagerfeld's designs during his tenure were inspired by history, but always unexpected, and the Chanel Vanity Case is a prime example of this unique intersection.
An Audrey Hepburn-Inspired Accessory
Reminiscent of a jewelry box, or the cases women used to carry cosmetics and toiletries during travel, the Chanel Vanity Case is a modern interpretation of Audrey Hepburn-era accessories. The earliest iteration of the Chanel Vanity appeared during the ‘90s, released in black caviar leather with the iconic interlocking CC logo. While this style remained incredibly rare due to limited production at the time, the Vanity Case was reimagined for the Chanel Airlines Spring/Summer 2016 collection. Versatile and chic, the revived Vanity was an instant hit, including all the staple features of classic Chanel handbags. Much like the practical structure of real luggage, this Chanel bag unzips around the entire perimeter and contains numerous compartments for storage. Additionally, with both a shoulder strap and handle, the Chanel Vanity Case can be carried on the shoulder or held in hand. Lagerfeld designed the 2016 Vanity Case to be novel and glamorous in appearance, but practical and versatile in function, and he achieved just that.
As a result of such high demand from Chanel clients, radical variations of the Vanity Case continue to pop up in seasonal collections. Notably, the Vanity was released for the Spring-Summer 2018 show in tweed and exotic leathers, signifying the final year Chanel would use exotic animal skin or fur in any collection.
Breaking Resale Records
For the Cruise 2020 show, Chanel launched the already iconic Vanity Case in a PVC patent leather model. Immediately, Chanel’s PVC Vanity sent shockwaves through the fashion world, surpassing the Hermès Birkin in immediate market resale value. Glamorized with pure platinum hardware and hand-dyed patent leather, the Vanity Cases from this collection were guaranteed to be 100% unique. From leather and rattan to denim and PVC, each variation of the Vanity Case is highly investable, unmistakably Chanel, and deserving of a spot in any luxury handbag collection.