Saturday, January 4, 2020

Chanel | Classic Flap Bag: Review

Disclaimer: The product featured was purchased by me.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware: Review
Not long after I bought my first luxury bag (the YSL Niki, reviewed here) back in 2018, I started eyeing the Chanel Classic Flap. Adapted from Coco Chanel's 2.55 flap bag by Karl Lagerfeld in 1984, the Classic Flap is arguably one of the most iconic luxury bags in fashion history. Due to limited supply and brand prestige, the price of the Classic Flap has risen astronomically over the years and for that reason, it took me a long time before finally biting the bullet. I watched a lot of videos, read a ton of reviews, and perused countless forum discussions prior to my purchase and believe me, there are already a plethora of information about this bag online. However, because I enjoy writing bag reviews and because I spend a good chunk of money on this baby, I wanted to share my thoughts and tips with anyone who's thinking of making a purchase. So to read on, click......

Size:
Depending on the season, the Chanel Classic Flap is available in up to seven different sizes: Extra Mini, Mini Square, Mini Rectangle, Small, Medium*, Large/Jumbo, and Maxi.  However, only the Small, Medium, Large/Jumbo, or Maxi are now considered part of the permanent collection and are therefore easier to procure on a regular basis. See below for their Canadian prices as of January 2020**.

Extra Mini: -
Mini Square: C$3,725
Mini Rectangle: C$4,250
Small: C$6,350
Medium: C$7,175
Large/Jumbo: C$7,950
Maxi: C$8,650

*The Medium Classic Flap is listed simply as the Classic Handbag on the Chanel website as this was the original size.
**Chanel has regular price increases. This generally happens in November of each year. When I bought my Medium Classic Flap in October 2019, the bag was C$6,850.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware: Review
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag
As a petite 5'1 (155 cm) female who hates big bags, I quickly eliminated the Large/Jumbo and Maxi during my decision process. I also easily eliminated the Small size due to the fact that it has a smaller capacity than the Mini sizes, but still costing around the same as that of the Medium.
I'm not a fan of the Mini Square shape as it deviates quite a bit from the original Classic Flap aesthetic so it really came down to the Medium and the Mini Rectangle for me. Aside from their sizes (and prices, of course), the two have a few other differences. Whereas the Medium has a double flap* design, the Mini Rectangle (as well as the Mini Square) has only a single flap. Because the original Chanel flap bag (i.e. the 2.55 released in February 1955) was made with the unique double flap design, the feature, to me, is one of the essence of the bag. Although considered useless and space-wasting by some, the double flap actually serves several purposes, which include creating an extra inner compartment, adding structure to the bag (thereby preventing a saggy flap, particularly for the lambskin versions), and ensuring a tighter closure to prevent small things from slipping out even from the front slip pocket. Therefore, I was leaning heavily towards the Medium size.

*The double flap feature is only found on the Small, Medium, Large/Jumbo, and Maxi.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Model Shot: Review
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag
The only thing that made me hesitate was the fact that the Medium had a shorter chain length* that could only be worn as a shoulder bag whereas the Mini Rectangle had a longer chain that allowed the bag to be worn crossbody. Additionally, it's worth noting that despite their outer appearance, the Medium and the Mini Rectangle hold the same amount of stuff (with the Mini Rectangle possibly allowing room for more). This is due mostly to the fact that the double flap of the Medium takes up more room and provides more rigidity, thereby decreasing capacity. Ultimately, however, I chose the Medium due to the fact it is the original size, has a double flap, and best fits my personal aesthetics.

*Only the Extra Mini, Mini Square, Mini Rectangle, Jumbo/Large, and Maxi have a long enough chain for the bags to be worn crossbody. Unless you are very thin and petite or don't mind the bag sitting higher on your torso, the Medium and Small Classic Flap can only be worn as a shoulder bag.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Model Shot: Review
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag
Leather:
As Chanel releases limited edition Classic Flap styles every season, you can find the bag in just about every leather and material there are, ranging from patent leather, tweed, jersey, velvet, alligator, to python. However, only two leathers are part of the permanent collection and they are lambskin and grained calfskin (commonly known as caviar leather). The bag is available in a rainbow of colors but black and beige are the two permanent options.
Unlike deciding between the different sizes, I knew from the get-go that I wanted the Classic Flap in a black caviar leather. Chanel lambskin is undoubtedly luscious and luxurious but it's also notoriously fragile. If I'm spending $7000 on a bag, I'm going to be wearing it on a regular basis so I have no time for a high maintenance leather like that. Additionally, I personally prefer the pebbly look of the caviar leather and the fact that it's structured, scratch-resistant, water-resistant, and stain-resistant is the mountain of cherries on top. I've worn the bag regularly for three months now and the leather still looks pristine.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Grained Calfskin: Review
Chanel | Classic Flap in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware
As you can see above, the bag has a stitched diamond pattern inspired by equestrian wear. It's worth noting that depending on the season and the batch, there are visible variations between the caviar leather used for one bag and the next. Even when I was choosing between two versions of the same bag in stores, the caviar pattern on one bag looked different than the one on the other. I personally prefer a medium grain on which the individual pebbles aren't too large or too small. Additionally, sometimes the caviar leather has a duller, matte finish while other times it has a smoother, shinier finish. Some people may not have a preference at all but I'm mentioning all of this because for such a hefty investment, it's a good idea to look at several bags of the same model and carefully inspect them before making a choice. If your boutique only has one or two bags available for inspection and none of them meet your expectations, don't settle and wait for the next shipment.

Hardware & Chain:
A handful of different hardware finishes are available for the Classic Flap but the two that are a part of the permanent collection are silver and gold. While the gold is classic, the silver has a more modern touch. However, the gold hardware paired with the Medium Classic Flap is one of a brighter, yellow gold, which feels quite bougie and garish. I'm not sure if it's due to batch variation or the difference between the various sizes, but the gold hardware on my friend's Jumbo/Large Classic Flap is more of a classy champagne gold. So ultimately, I chose silver and I'm very glad with my decision. I think with the silver, it's easier to dress it up or dress it down whereas the gold doesn't have the same kind of versatility.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | CC Clasp: Review
Chanel | Classic Flap in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware
The most prominent piece of hardware on the Classic Flap is the surprisingly easy-to-use CC turn-lock clasp. It takes no effort to shut and the closure feels secure. After the horrendous experience with the hardware on my Lady Dior bag (reviewed here), I was very worried about getting scratches on the CC turn-lock, especially given the fact that the two pieces of metal are constantly coming in contact with one another. Thankfully, the Chanel hardware is a lot more scratch-resistant. With that said, I do notice some minor scratches, particularly at the top of the turning piece. However, these scratches are lot subtler and won't be noticed unless examined up-close.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Chain: Review
Chanel | Classic Flap in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware
With a shorter drop length (as compared to most of the other sizes), the Medium Classic Flap can only be worn over the shoulder, either with the chain lengthened or doubled up. I've always preferred to wear my bags crossbody so this was initially a big concern of mine. Interestingly, though, after getting used to wearing a shoulder bag, I had a hard time adjusting back to crossbody bags. So although the shorter chain length of the Medium size was a big concern of mine, it really didn't turn out to be an issue at all. As a side note, however, a New York-based handbag repair/restoration company called Leather Surgeons offers the service to lengthen the Chanel chain/leather straps. I did a little research in this area beforehand but the cost, hassle, and risk involved just didn't seem worthwhile to me.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Chain: Review
Chanel | Classic Flap in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware
As you can see above, the Chanel Classic Flap features the iconic chain interwoven with leather. Upon close examination, I noticed that two different pieces of leather are used to make one continuous strap. After reading several discussions on The Purse Forum, I found out that this is actually common practice. However, where the two different pieces of leather meet on my strap, I noticed some peeling (see photos below) only a week after purchase. I was quite appalled when I first discovered this and after some more research, I found out that this is apparently also not unheard of. For a $7000 bag, though, a problem like this really shouldn't occur and this may be why some people are lamenting on the decline of craftsmanship of Chanel bags. However, as this has been the only issue I've experienced with the bag, I'm not super caught up.
Chanel | Classic Flap Strap Peeling
I had the option of bringing the bag to the boutique for repair but I figured that they were either going to glue the peeling bit back on, snip it off completely, or offer a full replacement of the strap, which would take months due to shipping to and from Paris (or whenever Chanel bag repairs occur in Europe). So to avoid unnecessary trouble, I decided to simply snip off the peeling bit with a pair of sharp cuticle clippers. I'm sure what I did would be considered sacrilegious by some but I've not experienced any more problems with the leather since. My word of advice here would be to examine the leather very carefully, along the entirety of the strap and on both of its sides before purchase. Ideally, the strap would be made of one continuous piece of leather but if more than one is used, make sure the seams are securely glued .
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Side View: Review
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap | Sideview
Exterior:
The Chanel Classic flap has a structured design and this is especially emphasized with the stiffer caviar leather. As you can see clearly in the profile shot of the bag above, the inner flap takes up quite a bit of room, thereby restricting the maximum capacity of the bag. So although the Medium size looks fairly large, you really can't fit all that much inside.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Bottom View: Review
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap | Bottom View
The Classic Flap is designed with a flat rectangular base and therefore should sit upright without any support. However, because the double flap makes the bag a bit "front-heavy", the bag can flop forward if the base is not perfectly constructed. While I was picking out my bag, I had noticed another one with a warped base that made the bag appear a bit lopsided. Therefore, when picking out your bag, make sure the bottom is completely leveled so that it sits flush against a flat surface.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Back Patch Pocket: Review
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap | Back View
The last exterior feature to note is the small patch pocket on the back. Said to have been inspired by Coco's love for Mona Lisa (hence the slightly curved upper edge), the pocket was intended to hold small change. However, given its slim design and the fact that I rarely use cash nowadays, the pocket is pretty much useless. I can't fit my cellphone inside and even a small card case will stretch it out. For those of you that like to save receipts, however, the pocket may be used for that.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Outer Flap Pocket: Review
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap | Interior Pocket
Interior:
Two pockets are revealed when the outer flap is lifted. The first is a slip pocket sandwiched between the outer and inner flap. It's very slim so only certain items will fit. You can use it for important documents but I only store a thin travel comb inside. This is probably one of my favorite features of the bag because it feels super cool and incognito.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Hidden Zipper Pocket: Review
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap | Zippered Pocket
The second pocket revealed is the infamous zippered slip pocket where Coco reportedly hid her love letters. Unlike on the Chanel Wallet On Chains, this small pocket opens upwards and does not run the length of the flap. Therefore, it's only about two inches deep. Since I don't often drive, I store my single house key inside but I cannot imagine using the pocket for anything else.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Inside: Review
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap | Interior
Lots more are revealed with the lifting of the inner flap, starting with the gorgeous leather lining. The burgundy color was inspired by the uniform worn by Coco Chanel at the convent orphanage where she was raised. The leather feels super supple and the contrasting color makes it easy to locate things inside. Interestingly, the inner flap has a snap button closure. However, unless your bag is completely stuffed, it's almost impossible to close the snaps. Therefore, I never bother shutting the snap button and the Chanel sales associate said that this is the case for most people.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Double C Stitching: Review
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap | Zippered Pocket
The first of the inner pockets is a roomy slip pocket just outside the main compartment. I can fit many things here, including my iPhone XS with an Otterbox Symmetry case, a small card case, or an assortment of makeup products. A similar pocket is found on my YSL Niki (reviewed here) which I sometimes struggle with small things (ex. lip balm) slipping out of but because the Chanel inner flap creates a snug closure, nothing will fall out from this pocket, even when the bag is stored on its side.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Front Slip Pocket: Review
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap | Front Pocket
The main compartment, as you can see below, is smaller than expected. Aside from a full-sized wallet, an iPhone, and a sunglasses case, not much else will fit inside. However, because the bag already has so many other pockets, you can easily organize everything so they aren't all bunched together in one compartment.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Inner Compartment: Review
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap | Main Compartment
One of the features I was really excited about is the set of three slip pockets on the back wall of the inner compartment designed for cards, makeup compact, and lipstick. The two larger pockets are decently sized but slim. With a compact slipped inside, I can really feel the leather stretching. This is even more pronounced with the lipstick pocket, which is also way too shallow to fit a regular-sized lip product. Because I don't want the pockets to lose their shape, I've only been using the two larger ones for storing blotting paper and tissue packets.
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap Handbag in Black Caviar Leather with Silver Hardware | Embossing: Review
Chanel | Medium Classic Flap | Interior
Summary:
Overall, I am very happy with my Chanel Classic Flap because it literally is the most classic and timeless bag that will go with every outfit. The quality of the caviar leather feels amazing and although not perfect, the craftsmanship is still superior than most. Depending on personal needs and preferences, the Medium Classic Flap may not be for everyone and I'm not even going to try to justify the crazy price tag. However, if this is a bag that's been on your wishlist and you have ample savings to invest, then I'd say to just go for it as the price will only go up.

Pros:
-Classic, timeless style
-Structured yet lightweight design
-Easy to use turn-lock clasp that's also fairly scratch-resistant
-Low-maintenance caviar leather that's resistant to scratches, dents, water, and staining
-Supple leather lining
-Well-designed interior (i.e. good number and variety of pockets/compartments that make it easy to organize belongings)

Cons:
-Shorter chain that don't allow crossbody wear (unless you are super petite)
-Limited capacity; the bag (at least the Medium size) fits less than expected
-Zippered pocket under the outer flap is essentially useless
-Inside slip pockets for compacts and lipsticks are too slim and shallow for their intended purposes
-Leather strap made with two pieces of leather glued together, allowing the possibility of peeling over time

Do you own the Chanel Classic Flap? What's on your bag wishlist? Share with me in the comments below!

Availability:
Chanel is available worldwide at Chanel boutiques.
Share:
© 2013-2020 The Happy Sloths | Blog Design by pipdig | Artwork by Darya D