Tag: Chanel

What I Learned About Coco Chanel In Paris

Chanel Black Shopping Bag

Last summer, I spent a week in Paris, soaking in the fashion, the architecture, the food, the corner bookstores, the leisure and cafés.

While visiting Paris for the first time, my goal was to visit as many luxury boutiques as I could. Chanel, of course, was top on my list of boutiques. I wanted to walk the same paths Coco walked; to be in the same rooms she was once in; to feel her spirit around my shoulders. Chanel is one of the most iconic luxury brands of today, built by a girl who came from nothing.

Chanel, a privately-held company, issued an earnings report that shows the company made nearly $10 billion in sales in 2017.

I wondered what she would think as I wandered to every Chanel boutique. I stared in awe at the empire she created, while living at the Hotel Ritz around the corner of what would become the first Chanel Boutique: 31 Rue Cambon. Dating back to the 18th century, rue Cambon was named after a famous French revolutionary, whose father was a fabric manufacturer. The streets in this part of Paris were built just after the French Revolution.

In 1918, Coco Chanel acquired the entire building at Number 31 Rue Cambon. It was here that she invented the concept of the modern boutique: displays of fashion accessories and her first perfume (N°5) to wear with her garments and hats.  By 1927, she owned five buildings on rue Cambon (Numbers 23 to 31).

Coco arranged the 18th century building to fit the needs of her growing empire: the boutique occupied the ground floor, while the large reception room on the first floor was used to present her collections and for fittings for Haute Couture dresses and suits. A stairway led to her second-floor apartment where she lived. The third floor housed the studio, where Karl Lagerfeld works today. All of her activities, which included workshops for making jewelry, hats and sportswear, were in this building. The configuration of the building is the same today. Chanel even hosts a podcast, 3.55, from Coco’s apartment.

Everywhere in Paris, I saw things Chanel would have been inspired by. A government building with CC’s on it; the Seine; Rue Cambon itself. I wanted to experience what inspired Chanel to change the world just by being herself.

Gabrielle (aka Coco) Chanel once said, “beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” I think the lesson is clear: we can do extraordinary things if we believe in ourselves (and look chic while doing so).

She knew what she was doing—she redefined fashion.


Well-behaved women seldom make history.

—Coco Chanel


From an early age I’ve felt a deep connection to Chanel—I recall my mother fawning over Chanel handbags and my grandmother adorning herself in tweed suits a la Chanel. As an adult, I’ve been drawn to learning more about the history of the brand and more importantly, the woman behind the brand, who singlehandedly redefined fashion in the early 1900s.

I’m always inspired by women saying “fuck you” to the rules and following her own way—defining her own path based on what her own instincts tell her, not what the invisible guiding hand of society says. Those are the ladies I want in my corner.

What Chanel created would change fashion, and the world. The modern black and neutral aesthetic; those chain straps; modern design on every package, every box, every awning, every bottle of perfume; and oh god, that perfectly symmetrical CC logo. The symbol itself conjures a feeling, a status, and a particular type of woman.

The CC logo Coco designed in 1925 soon eclipsed all of Chanel’s other motifs, appearing on jacket buttons, belts, shoes, and purses and acquiring enough cachet to turn into an abstract, impersonal status symbol, while still conjuring the person behind the initials. It became inextricable from the identity of the Chanel brand, appearing somewhere on nearly every accessory and all perfume packages.

Look around you—on the street, in the subway, at the office—you will see Coco Chanel’s influence. From chain-link belts, bouclé suits, jersey separates, quilted purses, beige-and-black shoes, and little black dresses, and shoulder bags, they are all attributed directly to Coco Chanel. No other person has ever wielded anything comparable to the degree of aesthetic influence Chanel has had for so long so many. That’s what one woman started. She was a sharp-witted women with a hungry, yearning spirit beneath.

Visiting the Chanel flagship store in Paris felt like stepping back in time to see what it was like in the early 1900s to be a woman who didn’t want to wear long dresses like everyone else, a woman who cut her hair short when everyone wore theirs in big, uncomfortable updos.

Gabrielle Chanel (aka Coco Chanel), grew up on a convent after her mother died and her father abandoned her. She started with nothing and built an empire.

The convent practiced “social Catholicism,” which believed in teaching, nursing or helping the poor over prayer and meditation. Gabrielle Chanel was provided with a rare view of powerful women in 19th century France: female congregations were an alternative to becoming a wife and mother; the mothers superior were in charge, not men. There’s no doubt that seeing women in uniquely powerful roles inspired Gabrielle to start her own empire.

While in the convent, Gabrielle learned to sew but also her disdain for recited prayer, and people trying “to put order in my disorder or into my spirit.” The church required her to memorize and recite prayers—a monotonous method used to dissuade questioning or interpretation, and to reject individualism.

Coco rejected this notion and respectfully left the convent. She paid respects to the convent with small touches of inspiration in her clothes and handbag:  the burgundy/garnet leather used inside the Chanel 2.55 flap bag was the color of the uniform that Chanel had to wear at the Aubazine orphanage where she was raised;  the double-chain shoulder strap of the 2.55 flap bag was inspired by the nuns who used to dangle keys from their waists. I have always loved how Chanel took memories from her past and turned them into design (this is a common practice by heritage brands and it isn’t a new concept, but it impresses me still).

While walking the streets of Paris, I wondered if I would have felt a kinship with Gabrielle, as those with an immortal angst tend to flock together.

Coco, wherever you are, thank you for your contribution to fashion and our world. Thank you for all the work you did to inspire women to be themselves, not who society wants them to be.


Photos by Becca Risa Luna

Palais de Chanel in Paris, France | CoffeeAndHandbags.com

Chanel CC Logo: Designed in 1925 | CoffeeAndHandbags.com

Coco Chanel Staircase in Paris | CoffeeAndHandbags.com

Wishlist & Try On: Chanel New Mini Classic Flap Bag

Chanel New Mini Classic Flap Bag
Current retail price: $3300
Style Numbers: A65050 (with 4 holes), New Mini A69900 (with 2 holes)

There are two different versions of the Chanel New Mini Classic Flap: two holes and four holes. By that, I’m referring to the holes at the top of the bag for the strap to loop through. With 4 holes, it’s easier to shorten the chain and wear it with double chains on the shoulder. Due to the absence of a double flap, the New Mini can fit more than the small sized Chanel flap. The 2 hole New Mini Classic Flap ends up being the perfect small crossbody bag.

Chanel Black Quilted Patent Leather New Mini Flap Bag.jpg

I’ve tried all styles of Chanel bags and I’ve decided the Chanel New Mini Classic Flap Bag is the Chanel bag I want.

A few weeks ago I went to the Chanel boutique inside Nordstrom’s flagship store in downtown Seattle. I usually try to go the boutiques every month or two to see what’s new for the season.

I just want to look, never speak to an SA because I know I’m not planning on buying anything that day. SA’s usually ignore me because I’m not actively engaged with them.

But this time, I wanted to ask a few questions. I’ve had my eye on a Caviar card case, and wanted to see one IRL. I looked around for a little while before asking to see a Black Caviar and Red Caviar Classic Card Case, which are priced at $400 each. They were beautiful.

Truth be told, I’ve never purchased any luxury items brand new from a boutique. All of my luxury bags, small leather goods, and accessories were purchased pre-owned or at sample sales.

I’m hoping the Chanel New Mini can be the one—though I’d be happy with pre-owned.

But they’re really hard to get. Not only does Chanel only make a few hundred a year, but they are very hard to find pre-owned because people keep them forever. Because Chanel minis are not considered part of the permanent line (small classic flap, the M/L, the jumbo and the maxi), they are released as seasonal bags. That means the Chanel New Mini is a seasonal bag and is only released in batches whenever Chanel feels like it.

I told the SA I wanted to buy a Chanel New Mini, knowing I wasn’t actually going to be able to walk away with one.

I wasn’t anticipating the SA catapulting into her rant about “wishlist” items. She asked me what I wanted, what color, leather, style, etc. It almost felt like a test to see if I was a serious buyer.

“Classic New Mini, the Rectangle one, in Black Caviar,” I stuttered. Somehow, in the face of this Chanel Sales Associate, I forgot my encyclopedia of Chanel knowledge. I reminded myself that I probably knew more than she did, and kept talking. “I would prefer shiny silver or shiny gold.”

She wrote down what I wanted on a piece of scrap paper with my name and phone number, which felt a little unprofessional.

The next thing out of her mouth was the worst seven words I’ve heard all year:

“It could be up to two years.”

Ugh.

That’s so dang long, but also two years to get my finances in a place where I can afford a Chanel bag, go on vacation, and donate to the causes I support.

I left the store feeling a little deflated but also hopeful that someday, maybe I’ll own a brand new Chanel bag.

I’ll keep looking on the pre-owned market, but the exact bag I want is few and far between. I’ve seen a few in the Chanel Addicted Buy and Sell Facebook group, but it makes me really nervous to buy from someone in a group. The bag could be fake, or I could get scammed.

Update:

I got to try on a Chanel Patent Leather New Mini Classic Flap today! I wasn’t expecting to love the patent leather, but the shiny gloss made it look so beautiful.

I’m 5’1″ and it feels like the perfect crossbody size. It only has a single flap with the Classic Chanel CC turn-lock on the front. SWOON. Should I get it? I really want one in Caviar leather (pebbled leather that’s more durable), but AHHH.

Chanel Black Patent Leather New Mini Classic Flap Bag | CoffeeAndHandbags.com

Chanel New Mini Classic Flap Bag | CoffeeAndHandbags.com

How to score a Chanel New Mini Flap bag:

Buy pre-owned from Yoogi’s Closet, Fashionphile.com, or TheRealReal.

  • Establish a relationship with a Sales Associate.
  • Keep track of release dates for Chanel Minis in the seasonal collections. The best place to do this is in the Chanel Mini Purse Forum Thread and the ‘Shopping’ thread in the Chanel section, which always have threads for the upcoming collections intel there on release dates.
  • When you find out an approximate release month for special releases, call your local Chanel store or go in to ask about new arrivals. Often SAs don’t have information about exact dates or what’s included, so just make sure they have your number to call or text you ASAP if they get a shipment in.
  • If your area has more than one Chanel boutique, call all of them to ask if your wishlist bag is there! Chanel may offer to search the ‘system’ for you to see if the bag you’re after is available in any of stores nearby, but proceed with caution because they do sell very fast.
  • Be persistent. Try calling between 10:00am and 11:00am before the store gets busy to see if they’ve received what you’re after in that day’s delivery.
  • If what you want comes in, go to the store ASAP to buy your new bag. The official policy is not to reserve items for customers, but most SAs will hold the bag for you for a couple of hours, especially if they know you.

Good luck!

Do you like the New Mini flap bag? Do you have one?

cheers,
becca risa luna @ coffee and handbags

Pre-Loved Designer Bags: Where I Buy/Sell, Tips & Reviews

Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermes Designer Handbags

There are so many places to buy pre-loved luxury goods. Buying pre-owned is great for saving hundreds if not THOUSANDS of dollars on something pre-loved that would have cost you so much more when buying new. It’s daunting nowadays with how many places there are to buy and sell, PLUS the constant worry of unknowingly buying a counterfeit item.

Where I Buy Pre-Owned Designer Handbags

Yoogi’s Closet, based in Seattle, WAis my go-to for buying pre-loved luxury. They authenticate all items in-house and provide all kinds of details about every item–from the year it was made to every flaw on the bag.  As far as pictures and descriptions go, they are THE BEST. Every angle, every nook and cranny is shown and discussed in their descriptions–which I really appreciate when I’m buying something that’s thousands of dollars online.  Every item in their store comes with an AUTHENTICITY PROMISE, and if you have any doubts, you can just return it, no questions asked. In addition, their customer service is outstanding and I’ve had responses within MINUTES from their customer service. Most of my handbag collection is from Yoogi’s Closet and I love the variety of rare and limited edition bags on this site.

www.yoogiscloset.com

 

Fashionphile, based in Carlsbad, CA, is one of my favorite places to browse bags–they truly have the best selection of luxury goods. Their prices are a little high sometimes, but their selection makes them standout because you can find something you really love.  I’ve never sold to Fashionphile but I wouldn’t hesitate to get a quote from them.

www.fashionphile.com

 

TheRealReal is somewhere I’ve never purchased from, but I really, really like their website. They have a HUGE variety of items from handbags to clothes to fine jewelry and home decor. It seems like every time I try to shop on their site I get so overwhelmed at everything they have available that I just give up.  They provide detailed information and photography for every listing.

www.therealreal.com

Peer-to-Peer Buying and Selling

Tradesy is a site I’ve both bought and sold from. This is a peer-to-peer marketplace, similar to Craigslist or Facebook marketplace, but every item comes with a Tradesy Promise.

Of the two main p2p apps, I have had the best luck selling on Tradesy, plus I really like their selling user interface. The Tradesy Commission fee is 19.8% plus an additional small fee that they call a “safe transfer fee” of 2.9%.  I really appreciate that Tradesy offers three shipping options for sellers:

  • Tradesy sends you a Shipping Kit with a Tradesy branded box, dust bag or polybag and shipping label–that way, when your buyer receives the item, it’s packaged really nicely in a Tradesy box. If you elect this option, they charge the buyer for this fee but it comes out of your final payout.
  • Print a pre-paid label and ship using your own materials. If you elect this option, they charge the buyer for this fee but it comes out of your final payout.
  • Use your own materials and submit tracking once you ship.

www.tradesy.com

Poshmark is another peer-to-peer marketplace and app. I’ve listed items on Poshmark and was pleasantly surprised with the ease of their app and the social component of it, but I have never actually sold or purchased anything on Poshmark.

www.poshmark.com

Facebook Buy & Sell Groups
Recently, I started using Facebook groups for researching, buying and selling. You can make the most money by selling in these groups, but there is a larger risk of getting scammed. There are groups for every designer, but the LV and Chanel groups are the ones I browse the most. I was able to sell a Louis Vuitton Epi Petit Noe for almost exactly what I paid for it ($895), and a vintage Chanel Camera Case for a small profit. When you post an item for sale in a group, Facebook automatically posts it on Facebook Marketplace so you may get messages from people in your local area too!

Louis Vuitton Addicted – Buy Sell & Chat

Chanel Addicted – Buy Sell & Chat

 You can also post ISO (in search of) posts with a budget included and people will comment with similar items for sale.   Many members are also active in other handbag groups and on Instagram. An added benefit is that you can connect with lots of handbag loving folks too, and maybe even make some friends!

Depop is another peer-to-peer marketplace that’s more geared towards fast fashion and less towards designer goods–but people keep telling me to give it a try. I downloaded the app last night and I can’t stand the typeface they use in their app so I might delete it.

 

 


Tips For Buying Pre-Owned Designer Bags Online

  1. Set your budget.
  2. Got a bag in mind already? Use Google Search or any of the sites I listed above to find it.
  3. Not sure what bag you have in mind? Start by looking on Pinterest for the style you want–shoulders bags/clutches, etc. Look at Instagram Hashtags for ideas, i.e. #LouisVuittonSpeedy will bring up over 100k of posts featuring Speedy bags.
  4. Do your research. If the bag is current, how much does the bag sell for at full retail? My rule of thumb for current styles is that if I’m not getting more than 20% off retail, it’s not worth it to buy pre-owned. If the bag isn’t a current style, how much did it sell for when it was in stores, and how much is the same bag selling for on other sites?  Is it a rare/limited edition item?

Tips For Selling Designer Bags Online

  1. Know some basic information about your item: the proper style name, date code/serial number, year it was made, original retail price, etc. This will help you get a better quote or more money for it.  If you have questions about how to identify your bag, let me know in the comments and I’m happy to help.
  2. Take a lot of photos of your item. The more angles, the better. Make sure to get a picture of any logos, labels, or tags on or inside the bag.
  3. Describe the condition of the bag. Accurate descriptions can help the buyer know exactly what they’re getting or for the company you’re trying to sell to give you the most accurate quote. The bottom corners and handles carry the most wear, so be sure to look those over and describe any wear and tear.
  4. Get a few quotes from a variety of places. You may find that one site gives you a better quote but wants you to pay for your own shipping, and another pays for shipping and offers you added benefits like getting more money if you opt for payment in store credit.
  5. If you decide to sell through a FB Group, I recommend using PayPal because they can help you if something shady happens. If you’re selling, make sure you take pictures of every step of the shipping process and create an invoice for your records.

Chanel Sues Reseller What Goes Around Comes Around

Fashionista reported today that Chanel has sued reseller What Goes Around Comes Around for selling mock Chanel mirrors and memorabilia with unauthorized usage of their logo.

What Goes Around Comes Around has brick and mortar stores in Manhattan, Los Angeles, Miami and the Hamptons, but maybe more known for having an e-commerce site that sells a lot of secondhand Chanel. Like, pages and pages of vintage Chanel.

Fashionista.com reports:

The luxury fashion house filed a lawsuit against WGACA in New York on Wednesday alleging counterfeiting and trademark infringement, false advertising, unfair competition and false endorsement. Among Chanel’s claims are that WGACA is misleading its customers into believing it has an official relationship with Chanel. According to the filing, WGACA “has attempted to deceive consumers into falsely believing that Defendant WGACA has some kind of approval of or relationship or affiliation with Chanel or that Chanel has authenticated WGACA’s goods in order to trade off of Chanel’s brand and good will.” The filing points out that WGACA “purports to sell genuine Chanel-branded point-of-sale items including, tissue box covers, trays, and mirrors, which are not authorized for sale to the public by Chanel,” and that Chanel “has explicitly refused WGACA’s requests to enter” into an official relationship or affiliation.

Okay, so they were pissed about a few things, but especially WGACA selling “Chanel-branded” mirrors, trays, and tissue box covers (primary used for decor in the home, of course) that were originally used at cosmetic counters.

I wonder if now that Chanel as a brand understands the magnetism of their CC’s as design elements, they could branch out into home decor.

It would be on-brand, after all. Coco was always designing everything, especially her suite at the Ritz Paris, where she lived from 1934 until her passing in 1971. Designed with the style and sophistication Coco Chanel is known for, the massive suite has that elegant Chanel touch with opulent furnishings—think lacquered screens, gilded mirrors, and a velvet banquette.

So maybe home decor could be good—find the Chanel girl and let her design her life just as Chanel would have wanted to live hers: surrounded in opulence with an homage to humble beginnings; a nod to the past with an appreciation for luxury.

Anyway, back to the lawsuit.

Fashionista.com continues to explain

Other alleged offenses include using Chanel marketing materials, images of Chanel-brand products, Chanel advertisements and trademarks on social media, using the hashtag #WGACAChanel and guaranteeing authenticity on items that are not guaranteed by Chanel. Chanel also says it has learned that WGACA has sold counterfeit items, including a handbag and a fake Chanel-branded tissue box cover.

Chanel is using trademark law here because the fashion house thinks that what with all of the luxury branding that’s being used by WGACA, there’s going to be a likelihood of confusion for consumers,” says Above the Law editor Staci Zaretsky. “There’s no relationship to speak of between the two companies, so WGACA’s continued use of Chanel branding is almost offensive.”

Oops. I think this implies that resellers need to be careful when marketing to consumers (especially online) that the item they are buying is secondhand and not related to Chanel’s brand by any means.

I don’t know who in would have had the idea that What Goes Around Comes Around and any other reseller/consignment shop that sells secondhand items would be associated with the brands they sell.

Is Chanel going to sue every other second hand site? I can’t blame them from wanting to make people purchase solely from them but I don’t think they can stop people from reselling.

Lesson learned? Maybe, but probably not.

Knowingly selling fakes is illegal, especially at the prices that authentic Chanel items go.

Unfortunately, despite best efforts from brands, lawyers and government agencies alike, counterfeiting is still a huge business; maybe even more with Instagram and WatsApp making it so easy. I get at least 10 followers day that sell “inspired by” designer bags.

It’s not just online. In Asia, there were stores wall to wall with counterfeit, designer inspired “Louis Vuitton” bags. Stall after stall in alleyways in Marrakech, Morocco, there they were too. On a main shopping street in Mexico, I counted at least two stands with counterfeit bags.

I understand Chanel defending their brand… but picking on a reputable company that’s selling authentic Chanel products (handbags, etc.) and a few novelty items (Chanel tissue boxes) seems a little like low-hanging fruit.

Maybe going after the larger company offers better safety against potential customers that may think less of Chanel if they have a bad experience with What Goes Around Comes Around?

I’m not sure. Either way, counterfeiting sucks.