March 8, 2022 might as well have been named international Chanel day. In Paris, Virginie Viard revealed her autumn/winter 2022 show, while Sotheby’s presented a unique sale – focused on handbags and accessories and titled The Chanel Collection – in New York. (It should be noted that this auction is unrelated to the company’s sale of Karl Lagerfeld’s estate, parts one and two of which have achieved nearly $24 million, or £18.2 million.)
Those who have always dreamed of owning a Chanel surfboard (2019), a mini Duma quilted backpack (1994), a logo crop top (1995), or a version of a tweed jacket (1997) worn by Princess Diana to Prince William’s confirmation are in luck. The sale, featuring 256 lots, is focused on items from the 1980s, 1990s, and Y2K, the same decades that designers have been mining lately. They are also the eras for which millennials feel most nostalgic, according to Mason Howell, handbags specialist for Sotheby’s Americas. “Fifty-five percent of the people who are buying are new to Sotheby’s within our category and are below the age of 40,” he explained on a call. Relics of those times, he suggests, “remind us of the years before everything got hard, before being adults… It was fun.”
Lagerfeld’s Chanel was equally as amusing, especially when it came to accessories. The designer’s sense of humour and wit is displayed in a clutch shaped like a gold bullion bar (2006) and one from the 2015 Brasserie collection shaped like two china plates that’s infinitely more chic than brown bag delivery. There’s been a lot of press about Chanel raising handbag prices, so the final cost of the bags in this sale will be set by the online bidders. Resale, coupled with an archival mindset ushered in by Pinterest and Instagram, is changing the way we think about and value fashion. It’s not only, as Howell notes, the quality or that some of the pieces are spot on trend again. For some buyers, the chance of getting their hands on something that (almost) no one else has – and a piece of history to boot – is worth its weight in gold. Saying hello to vintage is sometimes saying goodbye to FOMO.