Chanel Collector's Clutches & Minaudieres

A Look Into The Allure Of Wearable Art

Nowadays it is hard to believe that there were times when women didn’t use handbags at all. Only beginning in the late 19th to early 20th centuries did women find it necessary to carry their belongings, as their clothes no longer had detachable pockets that were previously used for such purposes. The clutch was born only in the 1920’s and became really popular in the 1930’s.

It started as a simple envelope or a pochette and was initially intended to go with everything as opposed to distracting from a woman’s outfit and silhouette, which explains the plain, undecorated and very simple look of early clutches. In the following decade, Van Cleef and Arpels started producing rigid treasure boxes heavily decorated with gems, studs, and other beautiful details. Thus, minaudieres were born, which were not only a practical and glamorous addition to an outfit, but also a status symbol. So what is it exactly and how is it different from its older sister, the clutch? Minaudiere is a type of a purse that is small enough to be held in one hand and is typically more structured than a clutch and has more of a box shape. Minaudieres are used as formal wear similarly to a wristlet, but usually do not include a wrist strap, however, some might come with a chain.

While many brands have taken to the minaudiere trend and offer a range of evening clutches and minaudieres, heavily embellished or more simple, clean or minimalistic, some of them create truly unique, original and sometimes avant-garde pieces.


Chanel is one of the brands that takes this accessory to the next level. Every season the brand comes up with new minaudieres that look like an intricate piece of art and are sought after and treasured by collectors all around the world. Most Chanel minaudieres are made from plexiglass and the ideas behind each design has no limit. From an audio cassette, a film projector, or gold bar, to a book, or a nesting doll minaudiere. Many of these creations are centered around a specific country or city (Paris, Dubai, Moscow, and Shanghai, just to name a few), and its history along with the modern art inspiration.

Even though Chanel was not the first to introduce the minaudiere, the brand is well known for its elaborate evening bags. Back in the 80’s the fashion house introduced a series of small box shaped evening bags embellished with sequins along with some box bags made of quilted lambskin with a chain and classic CC logo. In the 90’s it came up with evening chain clutches made from tortoise shell with CC embossing and a multitude of other small pushlock chain bags from the same material, but it wasn’t until early-mid 2000’s that Chanel has reached its peak in terms of creativity and artistic approach. This was the time when any object could be taken as inspiration, and delivered in the most unique, fun and surprising way: a robot clutch, a globe, a casino card, a strass pistol, the lego brick, all embellished with pearls, crystals, or metal hardware.

Each piece is made in limited quantities, and prices may vary from a few thousand dollars to a few tens of thousands. The most expensive minaudiere to date, is a shell clutch covered in pearls from the 2012 collection with original retail price of 33,000 USD. A resin version would set you back 48,000 USD. Let’s take a look at some of Chanel’s most memorable collector’s items from the past decade.

SPACESHIP MINAUDIERE

SPACESHIP MINAUDIERE


This fun number comes from the futuristic Fall/Winter 2017/18 collection inspired by space exploration. Karl Lagerfeld has applied his creative mind on the idea of futurism and outer space, and has developed a truly unique aesthetic of intergalactic travel. This minaudiere invites you into his galactic fantasy, and is definitely one of the most covetable accessories of this season for avid collectors. The Spaceship Minaudiere is crafted from resin, brass, and metal, plus it’s embellished with crystals and comes with a classic Chanel woven-in leather chain. The price is only available upon request, but one day it’ll land itself at Rebag!

PERFUME BOTTLE MINAUDIERE

PERFUME BOTTLE MINAUDIERE


This iconic minaudiere hails from the Chanel Cruise 2014 collection. This piece is inspired by the legendary Chanel perfume bottle and reflects the perfume’s timeless and classic essence in an original and playful form, available in either black or transparent plexiglass with an engraved gold metal plate, making the clutch look almost identical to its prototype. The bottle can be worn as a clutch with a bottle’s neck acting as a flip-lock closure or as a shoulder bag as it features a woven-in leather chain strap that can be hidden inside. Original retail value? 9,500 USD.

DUBAI BY NIGHT GAS CAN MINAUDIERE

DUBAI BY NIGHT GAS CAN MINAUDIERE


This avant-garde piece was a part of the Chanel 2015 Cruise collection showcased in Dubai, featuring Middle Eastern- and Arabian nights-inspired pieces. This imitation gas can is crafted from clear plexiglass, and similar to the Perfume Bottle minaudiere, it can be worn two different ways: as a clutch with its chain tucked inside, or as a shoulder bag. This limited edition bag has a unique, unparalleled design with a classic CC logo at the front and back, which makes it a real collectible. While it retails for 10,800 USD, this rare bag can be found at Rebag for a fraction of the cost.

LAIT DE COCO CLUTCH

LAIT DE COCO CLUTCH


Straight from Chanel’s Fall/Winter 2014/15 Supermarket collection comes this fun and quirky milk clutch that was accompanied by many other grocery store-themed items. Milk has never looked so glam, with both crystal and pearl embellishments spelling out “coconut milk” in French. This one-of-a-kind bag will add a humorous and playful note to any outfit while maintaining a classy and fashionable status. Compared to its pricier minaudiere counterparts, this clutch’s original retail value is only 4,800 USD.

LEGO CLUTCH

LEGO CLUTCH


This clutch from the Spring/Summer 2014 collection was heavily inspired by modern art. Karl Lagerfeld based the design on the Lego-branded toys, making this another youthful and fun clutch. This bag comes in multiple variations, including single-tone resin styles, transparent plexiglass versions, and our favorite: this incredibly ornate interpretation with pearls on its body and handles. The last model takes a chunky lego bag and turns it into a luxurious evening piece. Original retail? 17,850 USD.

CC BOX CLUTCH

CC BOX CLUTCH


This dainty and chic clutch comes with a chain that makes it easy to wear as a crossbody, a shoulder bag, or as a clutch with the strap tucked away. It’s a runway piece from the Fall/Winter 2015/2016 collection, inspired by Chanel’s makeup line and in imitation of the “Les Beige” classic compact powder, or the eyeshadows palettes. The bag is made of plexiglass and comes in three colors: total black, black and white, and black and beige combinations. It can fit the bare night-out essentials, and will definitely be a showstopper. The original retail value of this classy piece is 8,500 USD.

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