Since Spring/Summer 2004 Ready-to-Wear, Chanel has released at least one novelty bag in every collection. From the cassette clutch to the ski gondola shoulder bag, these are the 15 that have stood out among the rest.
While Chanel is known for its classic pieces (re: the 2.55 Flap Bag, LBD, tweed suit, and two-toned heels), when Karl Lagerfeld was hired to be its creative director in 1983, he certainly brought his avant-garde taste with him. Not only did he reinvent some of Coco’s most famous designs, but he also introduced a few of his own. Most notably, the novelty bag – otherwise known as, the minaudière.
Starting in the early ‘00s, Lagerfeld released at least one novelty bag in every collection. The bags, which were designed to match the theme or location of the collection, are primarily crafted of plexiglass and acrylic and always incorporate Chanel’s iconic symbols.
Produced in very limited quantities and offered to the house’s most exclusive customers first, Chanel’s novelty bags are extremely rare. They have become collector’s items, reselling for well over their original retail price.
Should you be lucky enough to find one (and have the spare money to actually buy it), here is a list of the 15 that have stood out among the rest!
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Debuting in Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2004 Ready-to-Wear (From article by Vogue) collection, these were the house’s first-ever novelty bags. Since we primarily stream our music today, Chanel found a way to keep these retro methods from becoming obsolete. Nostalgia, after all, is in.
Chanel Casette Clutch Circa 2004
Chanel Record Clutch Season Unknown
Hand-painted to look like traditional Russian stacking dolls, this Chanel novelty bag was part of the Métiers d’Art Paris-Moscow 2009 (From article by Vogue) show. Alluding to Coco Chanel’s affair with the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, the collection also included Byzantine-like tiaras and Soviet-esque uniform suits; though, this gilded-chain wristlet stole the show.
Chanel Matryoshka Doll Clutch Metiers d'Art Paris-Moscow 2009
To match the actual iceberg he had imported from Scandinavia for the Fall/Winter 2010 Ready-to-Wear (From article by Vogue) show, Karl Lagerfeld designed a novelty bag that resembles the ice cubes we crack out of our freezer trays. With its fuzzy shoulder strap and frosted acetate, it looks just as freezer burned as the models, who had to strut through the slushy melted ice on the runway.
Chanel Ice Cube Bag Fall 2010
Chanel Ice Cube Clutch Fall 2010
This pearl-encrusted, conch-shaped clutch, which was released in the Spring/Summer 2012 Ready-to-Wear line, costs $48,000…yes, you read that right: $48,000! It is Chanel’s priciest novelty bag to date. A little too expensive? The non-beaded version retails for $15,000 less.
Chanel Pearl Shell Clutch Spring 2012
For Spring/Summer 2013 Ready-to-Wear, Chanel restyled its Flap Bag, substituting its iconic threaded chain straps with hula hoops instead. After the show, Karl Lagerfeld explained that the style was intended for the beach, “When you go to the beach, you need space to put your towel. And so, with this, you can put it on the ground and hang things from it.” Though, with the small size priced at $2,700 (the large never went into production), we would never dare set it in the sand!
Chanel Hula Hoop Flap Bag at the catwalk in 2013. Photo from article BragMyBag
Coco Chanel once claimed, “Perfume is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion.” For his Cruise 2014 collection, Karl Lagerfeld decided to make it more visible, designing a novelty bag that is an exact replica of the Chanel No.5 bottle. In lieu of the house’s signature jasmine-rose-sandalwood-vanilla scent, its octagonal-shaped body can be filled with essentials like an iPhone and lipstick. Though it is most popular in transparent acetate, which it was originally released in, the perfume bottle bag has since been offered in other variations. For Fall/Winter 2020, Virginie Viard encrusted it with jewels and color-blocked it in cream and black.
Chanel No. 5 Perfume Bottle Clutch Cruise 2014
Karl Lagerfeld was famous for his OTT runways. For Fall/Winter 2014 Ready-to-Wear, one of his most extravagant shows ever, he transformed the main hall of the Grand Palais into a Chanel Shopping Center. Models strutted down grocery aisles, which were lined with household items that had been given a Chanel makeover (including, doormats printed with ‘Mademoiselle Privé,’ boxes of Coco Chanel Coco Pops cereal, and bottles of Eau de Chanel No.0 mineral water). As they scanned the shelves, they carried very on-theme novelty bags. Most notably, a milk carton shoulder bag and threaded chain shopping basket.
Chanel Lait de Coco Milk Box Minaudiere Fall 2014
Chanel Shopping basket Pre-fall 2014
To present his vision of “a modern Orient, a new One Thousand and One Nights,” Karl Lagerfeld took Chanel’s Cruise 2015 collection to Dubai. While the clothing (harem pants, Aladdin slippers, and tunic tops) left much to be desired, the season’s novelty bag certainly did not. Shaped like a gas can (oil, after all, is the region’s most abundant resource and largest source of wealth), it is crafted of metallic gold quilted lambskin, which is embossed with a ‘CC’ logo [AV3]at the center. There is also a transparent plexiglass iteration, but this one is just too extravagant to pass up.
Chanel Jerrycan Shoulder Bag Cruise Dubai 2015
Chanel Jerrycan Minaudiere Cruise Dubai 2015
A couple weeks before Chanel’s Fall/Winter 2017 Ready-to-Wear show, NASA announced there is evidence to show that life-supporting planets exist. Surely, Karl Lagerfeld could not have anticipated this, but it appeared like he did, when that season’s runway served as Chanel ground control complete with a ‘CC’ rocket ship. To fit the out-of-this-world theme, he designed a rocket ship bag out of quilted resin and tassels with ‘CC’ logo charms. While it does not blast off (like the rocket centerpiece did at the end of the show!), this novelty bag will take you into the Chanel universe.
Chanel Rocket Clutch Fall/Winter 2017
For its annual Métiers d’Art collection, Chanel typically travels to international venues in cities like Rome, Dallas, Hamburg, New York, and Edinburgh. But, in 2017(From article by Chanel), it stayed closer to home, presenting at the Ritz Paris (where Coco Chanel kept her private residence throughout WWII and died in 1971). Inspired by even the hotel’s most basic amenities, the collection included a novelty bag designed to resemble the ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs guests often place over their door handles. Chanel’s version is, of course, much more luxe. Crafted of black and gold sequins, the evening clutch instead entices, ‘Please Dare to Disturb.’
Chanel Door Hanger
After Boy Capel, her longtime lover, gifted her a bouquet of camellias, they became Coco Chanel’s favorite flower. While she immediately began crafting the camellia out of silk and pinning it to her lapel and in her hair, the blossom did not appear in her designs until around 1923. Since, the camellia flower has become one of Chanel’s most recognized symbols, detailing its jewelry, couture, shoes, and even shopping bags. In the Fall/Winter 2018 Ready-to-Wear (From article by Chanel) collection, Chanel finally released a camellia bag. Made out of black acetate, it is bedazzled with purple rhinestone petals on its front and the ‘CC’ logo on its back.
Chanel Camellia Flower Clutch Bag Fall/Winter 2018
For Spring/Summer 2019 Ready-to-Wear (From article by Chanel), Chanel brought the seaside to its FROW – literally. The Grand Palais was turned into a beach, lapping waves and sand included. So, it was only fitting that a novelty bag was designed specially for the setting. The beach ball bag is made to look just like the fun-in-the-sun toy, but it has a ‘CC’ logo clasp and threaded chain strap. If you can find one, it comes in three colorways: red/turquoise/white/yellow, transparent/navy/white/yellow, and (everyone’s favorite) transparent/pink/turquoise/white. Just like the runway set, this novelty bag made waves!
Chanel Beach Ball Minaudiere. Photo by Chanel
Showing just a few weeks after Karl Lagerfeld’s death, Fall/Winter 2019 Ready-to-Wear (From article by Chanel) was his last collection for the French fashion house. Set at a faux ski resort in the Alps, the models walked on a snow-covered runway and carried Lagerfeld’s final quirky creation: a cable car-inspired evening bag. Available in white, turquoise, and black, they are all speckled with rhinestones and embossed with Chanel’s trademark quilted pattern. Look closely, and you will also notice that ‘Coco <3’ and the interlocking ‘CC’ logo have been drawn into the fogged up windows on each.
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