The Chanel 19 bag had its first unveiling in March 2019, in the final collection of Karl Lagerfeld before his untimely departure. The design could not be a more perfect legacy left behind by the creative genius of the Parisian luxury fashion house. It encapsulates the classic Chanel bag iconography, like the signature CC lock, but with a fresh and youthful twist, bringing it in line with current trends resounding with modern-day fashionistas. Unsurprisingly, the style has become an overnight sensation and is now a common feature among style bloggers, proudly clutching the latest 19 bags in their Instagram posts.

While usually I try to be reasonably measured in my responses to the hottest trends, in the case of the 19 bag, I fell under its spell very quickly. Initially, I set my heart firmly on the Light Pink one from the 20P collection, which was insanely gorgeous. But typically, they had sold out everywhere. Although I was really tempted to go for another colour just to get the bag (any bag!), with reluctance, I decided to hold off and wait for something special that would really tickle my fancy. Luckily, in the end I stumbled across a colour I instantly fell in love with, the Light Beige, which you can see in this review.

As the popularity of the design is showing no signs of waning, I thought it might be a good idea to share with you my thoughts on Chanel 19 and how I have been getting on with the bag since it joined my collection. In particular, in this review I want to focus on the pros and cons of the design, and also outline how the construction the 19 bag compares to the Classic Flap. As always, I will finish with my reflections on whether the Chanel 19 bag is an overall worthy investment.

Picture of Chanel 19 bag hanging on the shoulder

Aesthetics

The bag shown in this review is the smallest version of Chanel 19, and is commonly known as the Chanel 19 Flap Bag.

Chanel 19 bags are available in three sizes, as well as a Wallet on Chain, so there is something for everyone. Below, you can see measurements for all currently available variations of this design (in cm):

Chanel 19 Flap Bag  – 16 × 26 × 9 cm
Chanel 19 Large Flap Bag – 20 × 30 × 10 cm
Chanel 19 Maxi Flap Bag – 25 × 36 × 11 cm
Chanel 19 Wallet on Chain – 12.3 × 19.2 × 3.5 cm

The key distinguishing features of this model are the oversized quilting, 8cm x 8cm, giving the bag its distinct “puffy” appearance, and the bold, woven CC logo clasp. There is also the plaited leather and chain strap incorporating three-tone hardware i.e. gold, ruthenium and silver. And, of course, the gold-tone chain handle. The bag has a soft and relaxed silhouette which departs considerably from the structured “classic Chanel” look. At the back, there is a slip pocket with a magnetic clip closure.

Photo of the front of the bag
The front of the Chanel 19 bag is adorned with a decorative interlocking CC clasp featuring an interwoven leather element.
Photo of the back of the 19 bag
The back of Chanel 19 features a large flat pocket which runs across the entire width of the bag.

The chain strap in the regular Chanel 19 Flap Bag measures 110cm in length, with a drop of circa 55cm (that is from the shoulder to the top of the flap). I am 5’5 and the bag reaches just below my hip when it sits on my shoulder. The chain is sown into the flap and it cannot be doubled-up, in the same way as the chain of e.g. the Boy bag. There is also no mechanism for adjusting its length, which is fixed.

In terms of finish, there are multiple exteriors to pick from. There is the lambskin, goatskin, calfskin, tweed, cotton jersey, denim, velvet, and even sequins. If that is not being spoiled for choice, I do not know what it! The 19 bag shown in this review is made of lambskin, which is known for being finely grained, velvety smooth and magically soft. I will explain how this type of leather affects the durability of the bag in the following section.

Aside from the classic black, the bag is available in many seasonal colours for those who want to keep up with the current fashion trends.

As for the interior, the bag is lined with a fabric. The trunk has no compartments and the inner structure is open and spacious. There is one zip-up pocket measuring approximately 19cm x 8cm, which is large enough to accommodate a mobile phone. The zip pull has the word “Chanel” engraved on one side and the CC logo on reverse.

Overall, in terms of size, finish and key features, the style does not depart much from the Chanel convention. In fact, this particular model bears certain resemblance to the structure of the Classic Flap bag and, arguably, it has been inspired by it. I will be exploring the extent of these similarities, as well as differences, in following sections. [Back to Menu]

Picture of Chanel 19 bag held under arm

The pros of the Chanel 19 bag

The Chanel 19 Flap Bag is difficult to dislike. The style is cool, edgy and fun, while also incorporating the timeless elements associated with the House of Chanel. It really comes as no surprise that this bag has become such a great success, because it has a lot going for it. To me, its main appeal lies in the following features of the design:

“It is really pretty!”

The first pro of the Chanel 19 bag is the eye-catching exterior. I know that taste is subjective, but is difficult not to appreciate its visual appeal because this model is a truly striking piece.

While the 19 bag has features usually linked with Chanel such as the iconic quilting, the interlocking CC clasp, and chain strap, here they are more exaggerated. Thus, the quilting is larger, the clasp more pronounced and the chain chunkier and more flamboyant. On top of that, there are also novel aspects such as the “puffy” finish and the soft, and somewhat slouchy, structure.

On paper, this may sound like a big turn off to those who gravitate towards minimalist styles. In reality, however, none of these extra embellishments compromises the aesthetic value of the bag in any way. Quite the opposite. The amalgamation of overstated features has culminated in a surprising equilibrium where none of the individual elements overly stands out. Instead, it makes the design more captivating and gives the Chanel 19 bag a distinctly modern and on-trend flair.

“The mix-coloured chain”

The mixing of metal hardware is a matter of personal taste and confidence. However, I have never felt particularly comfortable combining gold and silver, and so I tend to coordinate the hardware of my bag, shoes and other accessories. Any mismatch would bug me too much, no matter how small or how far apart the ornaments might be.

handbag hardware in multiple colours
Chanel 19 features gold, silver and ruthenium coloured hardware.

If you are anywhere as pernickety as me, you will find the multicolour hardware of the Chanel 19 bag a true saviour. The fact the 19 bag combines elements of gold, silver and ruthenium means that matching it with other accessories is just effortless. No need to dash for a last-minute change of shoes because everything you wear will beautifully blend. I cannot express how much I love this aspect of the bag because leaving the house has suddenly become so much easier and quicker! 😊

“The presentation”

Another attribute of the Chanel 19 bag, which I really like, is the versatility of the design and, more specifically, the fact that it can be carried in multiple ways. The chain is sufficiently long so the bag can be worn crossbody, as well as hanging on the shoulder. There is also a secondary chain handle that allows the bag to be carried by hand or elegantly rest on the wrist. The bag’s trunk is large enough to accommodate the shoulder chain inside and still be usable.

I have included some mod shots, below, to give a few examples of how the bag can be presented:

Chanel 19 hanging on the wrist mod shot
Chanel 19 hanging on the shoulder mod shot
Chanel 19 bag held by the top handle mod shot

By having so many different options, it is easy to create a lot of distinct looks – from the modern and trendy to the more sophisticated one. My personal favourite is when the Chanel 19 bag is carried by the short handle, with long shoulder chain swaying downwards. This completely transforms the appearance of the bag, by instantly making it more elegant, and also adding a dynamic, “swinging” element to the overall design.

“Hardware as embellishment”

The bold hardware is also one of my favourite features of Chanel 19 because it turns the bag into a real statement piece. The clasp is large, provoking and utterly transfixing. The chain of the shoulder strap has a vibe akin to that of the Boy bag (for review, click here) in that it is equally conspicuous and uncompromising, but even more so. There is nothing modest or low-key about it. The large links in contrasting colours and finish ensure that the chain always steals attention.  

Chanel Boy bag and the 19 Bag comparison
In this photo, you can see the extent of similarities between the chain of the Chanel 19 bag and the Boy bag. The top handle of the 19 bag is near-identical to the style of the chain strap of the Boy bag.

Aside from being striking, the compelling hardware is itself a form of embellishment. With the 19 bag on your shoulder, you do not have to worry about accessorising, because the ornamental metalware instantly turns an outfit, no matter how plain or casual, into something far more glamorous and exciting. It literally assumes the role usually filled by jewellery and other adornments. As far as I am concerned, this is a huge plus because, more often than not, I cannot be bothered with accessorising. So the fact the bag takes care of this aspect is a big win in my books! 😉

“Functional design”

The final noteworthy aspect is the construction of the model (here, I am referring specifically to the size/version of the bag shown in this review).

For a relatively small bag, Chanel 19 is very roomy and highly practical. The combination of the soft finish and generous dimensions mean that the bag is not confined by a rigid structure and there is plenty of space to accommodate personal items. As demonstrated by the fit test, below, you can pretty much carry most of your essentials without having to be terribly selective or creative with your packing:

Fit test - Chanel 19 bag
Fit test: This photo shows an example of what I would usually carry inside of my Chanel 19. As you can see, I use a bag organiser and a make up pouch, which contains some additional items..
Chanel 19 bag fit test
Fit test: Here is the flat lay of all items shown in the earlier photo. I have laid out the contents of my cosmetic pouch to give you an idea how much would fit inside.

The one feature which deserves a particular praise is the slip pocket at the back. As far as outer pockets go, it has a very decent size and is large enough to hold iPhone 11. It also has a clip for additional safety. I have always been a big fan of external compartments, but the one in the Chanel 19 bag is simply fantastic, exceptionally spacious and highly usable.

The shape of the trunk, which is wide and not too deep, is an additional bonus of the 19 bag. It is very functional and makes it easy to access and retrieve items. The only downside is the lack of inner compartments. Aside from a small zip-up pocket, there are no other partitions. If like me, you tend to overfill your bags, but like to keep the contents tidy, you may find this structure mildly frustrating. Luckily, this can be easily fixed with a bag organiser, specific for the Chanel 19 bag. These tend to have additional pockets and, thus, provide a perfect antidote to clutter. [Back to Menu]

Photo of Chanel 19 bag on a staircase

The cons of the Chanel 19 bag

There is no denying that Chanel 19 has many good points. However, there are also a few things which have been bothering me ever since I got the bag, and so I wanted to highlight them in this review.

“Length of the shoulder strap”

The first issue relates to the shoulder strap. If there was one thing I could change about it, that would be its length. When the bag is carried hanging on the shoulder, the chain feels absolutely fine. However, when the bag is carried crossbody, the trunk sits relatively high on the hip in comparison to other crossbody styles, e.g. the Boy. In that respect, it reminds me of the Louis Vuitton New Wave Camera Bag (review here).

Below, I have included a couple of mod shots demonstrating what the bag looks like when worn crossbody (views from the front and behind):

Picture of the 19 bag worn crossbody
The 19 bag worn crossbody

Personally, I would feel more comfortable with an extra inch or two, especially as the trunk is quite chunky. Unfortunately, there is no option for extending the chain strap in the same way as it is the case e.g. in the Gucci Marmont bag (review here), so there is not much that can be done about it.

“Leather-reinforced chain”

The second aspect I am not too crazy about, is the leather reinforcement on the chain strap. In the small version of the 19 bag, the insert measures 20.5cm x 2.5cm, and its aim it to support the part of the chain sitting directly on the shoulder. You can see what I mean by looking at the picture, below:

Photo showing leather reinforcement of the interwoven chain strap in Chanel bagof
The oversized piece of leather supporting the chain strap gives it a somewhat heavy look.

While I think an elegant chain strap is the highlight of many Chanel bags, in this instance something is amiss. The thick layer of leather underpinning the iconic interwoven elements is superfluous. It makes the strap of the 19 bag look less chic when compared to the strap of the Classic Flap or the Boy bag.

The underlying strip of leather also makes it a bit awkward for the bag to stay on the shoulder. This may have something to do with my frame, but I have noticed that the bag has a tendency for slipping off. I have never experienced this issue with either my Classic or Boy bags, so I have a sneaky suspicion that the smooth and thick leather reinforcement might be to blame. Of course, it may just be the case that the strap is somehow incompatible with my body shape. Anything is possible! Still, I wanted to highlight this potential issue here as it may affect some of you too.

“The awkward top handle”

Another, slightly bothersome, aspect of the Chanel 19 bag is linked to the chain top handle. To clarify, I absolutely love the look of the handle and how functional it is. I rely on it all the time.

However, when not in use, it often settles on top of the flap in quite asymmetrical and irregular fashion. I understand that this feature aims to emphasise the modern and relaxed vibe of the 19 bag. Still, the lopsided appearance makes me want to adjust the chain over and over again, so it looks more even!

Ok, I may just be terribly pedantic, but I would much prefer if the chain handle always sat straighter on top of the puffy flap. Perhaps this would be naturally achieved had the handle been a tiny bit longer …? Luckily, it is possible to move it to the back so it is less visible, and it will not a problem when the bag is carried by the top handle. Anyway, this is just a minor point and definitely nothing to lose sleep over.

“The delicate exterior”

As mentioned in the earlier section, Chanel 19 bags are available in many different finishes. It goes without saying that fabrics such as tweed or denim are not exactly durable and need to be maintained of in order to last. Even if you opt for leather (i.e. lamb, goat or calfskin), these are, by no means, hard-wearing and susceptible to deterioration, if not treated with caution.

My bag, as shown in this review, has a lambskin outer shell which is exceptionally delicate. Although it is beautifully supple and very luxurious, it is also fragile and with a tendency for creasing and even sagging. Unfortunately, the bag’s edges are not supported by any piping and the oversized quilting is too sparse to boost the structure in any meaningful way. Thus, the leather takes the hit, quite predictably.

This photo shows a close-up of the very soft lamskin leather of Chanel 19 and the creases which naturally develop as the bag is used..

As that was not enough, this type of exterior is also susceptible to external factors such as colour transfer (especially the light shades), humidity as well as wear and tear caused by repeated friction. That is a lot to think about when you just want to enjoy your bag!

To preserve the leather, I have been fussing over the bag like no other. Firstly, I always use a bag liner/organiser inside of my Chanel 19 to prop up its shape and protect it from crinkling. I also try not to overload the bag, which is quite tempting considering its size. Further, when not in use, I almost religiously adhere to Chanel’s storage advice. This involves keeping the bag upright in the provided pouch with the chain strap placed inside to prevent the metal from imprinting marks in the leather. For a good measure, I also add some extra paper filler.

While all of this may help to ease my mind, realistically, it only delays the inevitable. To get any enjoyment out of the bag, I had to learn to accept that my Chanel 19 was unlikely to retain its shape in the same way as my lambskin Boy or the Classic Flap. It is just its charm, I guess… Fingers crossed that with some extra precautions, this gorgeous piece should have a decent milage, and the aging leather will be just a part of the bag’s appeal.

“The base”

Another point to bear in mind is the fact that the base of the bag is not reinforced in any way. Usually, I am not overly concerned about the base. However, in this instance, due to the delicate leather, the lack of supporting pins or protective piping means that the bottom of the 19 bag is particularly susceptible to marks and stains. This also leaves the corners and edges more exposed to wearing off.

Bottom of the bag

Of course, it does not help that my Chanel 19 bag is a light shade of beige, which makes it even harder to keep the corners and the base in tip top condition. But even with darker colours, the fragile leather will not be entirely impervious to deterioration, although it will be less susceptible to colour transfer.

Realistically, there is not much that can be done to address this point, as it goes to the construction of the 19 model, other than being sensible and mindful of the surface where the bag is placed.

“The fabric lining”

The final point to note is the interior. The Chanel 19 bag is lined with a textile which matches the colour of the bag. The fabric is lovely, smooth and shiny, but also quite delicate.

Interior of the Chanel 19 bag
This photo shows the inner structure of Chanel 19 and the type of textile lining the interior of the bag.

Any fabric padding is inherently prone to staining and marks from hand creams, sanitisers, make up and pens. This will be particularly the case if you end up with a light-coloured interior, like the one shown in this review. However, even with darker colours, you still have to be really careful. Unfortunately, the textile used is relatively thin, so there is no guarantee that stains will not permeate into the outer leather.

This brings me to another argument in favour of a bag organiser. I have already made a case for it in the context of propping up the structure of the bag and adding extra compartments. Its role will be particularly vital when it comes to shielding the inside from marks and staining. I have been using organisers for a long time and it is abundantly clear that no other bag needs it as much as Chanel 19!

As you can see, there is quite a lot to bear in mind if you decide to invest in the 19 bag. But, I hope that my moaning will not put you off too much. I have been enjoying the bag tremendously and I am only just trying to give you my honest opinion on the few niggling issues, which have come to the fore ever since my journey with the style commenced 😉. [Back to Menu]

Chanel 19 vs Classic Flap

One of the main reasons why I have fallen under the spell of the Chanel 19 bag is the fact that, in a way, it is a trendier and cooler version of the Classic Flap. I am a huge fan of the Classic – who is not?  But sometimes I fancy carrying with me something less dressy and formal, and the 19 bag is the perfect medium.

There are some clear visual similarities between the bags. Both have the distinctive diamond quilting, but in the case of the Chanel 19 bag, the quilting is substantially larger. The fascia of the bags is also alike in that both have a frontal flap, albeit the shape of the flap differs, especially near the lock. Each design also has a back slip pocket, save that in the Classic Flap there is no clip closure to secure it.

Chanel Classic and Chanel 19 bag comparison
The front of the Classic bag and Chanel 19 is comparable. Both bags feature the same closure mechanism, similar looking clasp and a quilted surface.
Chanel Classic and Chanel 19 back comparison
The back of the bags is also alike in that each has a slip pocket.

Some parallels can also be drawn between the bags’ interiors. The most notable one is that both Chanel 19 and the Classic feature an open trunk with no dividers. Yet, while the inner structure of the 19 bag is quite plain, with a single side pocket, the configuration of the Classic is more complex. Here, the trunk has an extra layer of leather covering the front and the back, creating “a trunk within a trunk” impression, with a flap cover on top. The “gaps” between the inner and outer trunk form natural slip pockets. On top of that, the bag also has additional small compartments, one of which was specifically intended for holding a lipstick.

The locking mechanism is also comparable. While each bag has the iconic CC clasp, in the 19 bag the CC element is larger and features a decorative interwoven leather chain. In the Classic Flap bag, the entire clasp consists of metal hardware with no leather elements.

The main aspect distinguishing the Classic Flap from Chanel 19 is its overall feel. Chanel 19 has a soft and floppy structure, resulting in a relaxed and stylish, but somewhat informal, appearance. Conversely, the Classic Chanel bag is well known for its rigid silhouette with clearly defined lines, giving it its famed ultra-sophisticated look. In that respect, it is quite hard to choose between them, or say which one is the better option, because each is unique and exciting in its own way.

Chanel 19 bag vs Classic Flap

The second differentiating element is the chain. In the Classic Flap the iconic strap consists of a single-colour links interwoven with leather, measuring circa 1cm in width. The chain is not affixed to the bag in a static way. Instead, it is intertwined through hoops in the top of the flap, which allow it to slide, thus creating multiple ways to carry the bag, i.e. it can be doubled-up or worn as a single chain.

In Chanel 19, the chain strap is permanently attached to the bag, which means it cannot be doubled-up as it is the case in the Classic Flap. However, the way in which the chain is sewn into the flap creates an additional top handle (as shown in the earlier section), not featured in the Classic. The chain links are also more prominent, approximately 1.3cm in diameter (1.7 on the top handle) and three-tonal, which is another aspect unique to that design.

Personally, while I feel it is impossible to compete with exquisite nature of the Classic strap, the chain of Chanel 19 bag has massively grown in my estimation since I got the bag. It may not project the same aura and chic as the entwined Classic strap, but it is undeniably beautiful, stylish and fun, and for that it certainly deserves a lot of credit.

The final notable difference lies in the appearance of the lining. In the Classic Flap, the entire interior is made of leather with the Chanel logo printed onto the inner layer of the flap. Conversely, the lining of Chanel 19 consists mostly of textile, with the Chanel logo in the form of a metal plaque affixed to the internal pocket. I have mentioned in the earlier section how the fabric lining is a drawback of the 19 bag, as it provides the interior with only a limited protection. By comparison, the leather lining of the Classic Flap makes the bag far more long-wearing and resilient. In practice, this means that while I am perfectly content to use my Classic Flap without a bag liner, the very thought of not having one inside of my Chanel 19 positively fills me with dread!

While above, I tried to list the main features distinguishing the two designs, the most obvious disparity lies in the price of each piece. However, as this aspect will be further explored in the following section, I am not going to dwell on it here and, instead, swiftly move on to the concluding paragraph where I will consider the 19 bag as a long-term investment. [Back to Menu]

Chanel 19 bag photographed in a churchyard

Worth it?

Is the Chanel 19 bag worth it? If money is not an object, I would definitely say so. On one hand, it is youthful and trendy, and should appeal to those not wedded to the idea that Chanel bags must always equate to formal elegance. On the other, it should satisfy even the discerning Chanel purists, as it incorporates elements of what would usually be perceived as “the classic Chanel look”, albeit in a somewhat watered-down version. So if you are looking for a balance between the timeless and the contemporary, and love luxury designs, Chanel 19 will be the one for you.

The handbag may also be a good choice for those who dream of Chanel, but who are not ready to splash out on the Classic Flap just yet. The 19 is notably more affordable and closer in pricing to the Boy. And, with a bit of luck, you can even pick one up at the Chanel Heathrow Airport boutique in the UK, tax free (although they sell out really quickly).

Of course, in standard terms, and even with a discount, the 19 bag is still a vastly expensive piece. However, nowhere near as costly as the Classic, especially with its regular and insane price increases. The current price difference between the 19, the Boy and the Classic in comparable sizes (as of March 2021, in the UK, all in leather finish), speaks for itself, really:

Price comparison Chanel 19 vs the Boy and Classic Flap

Naturally, the significant price disparity merely reflects the fact that, as a fairly new design, Chanel 19 has not achieved the same status or following as the Classic. After all, the former has been around for circa two years, whereas the latter is, undisputedly, one of the most coveted bags in the fashion world, and the unequivocal symbol of style and luxury. Still, the far more reasonable pricing of Chanel 19, i.e. a 3/4 of the price of the Classic Flap, will be a rather compelling argument to many in favour of getting the bag, irrespective of how iconic the Classic might be.

Will the model stand the test of time? For now, the longevity of the design is yet to be seen and it may be too early to say if the Chanel 19 bag will become a good long-term investment. It is perfectly likely, though. The captivating style has gained tremendous popularity in a short space of time so, in theory, there is no reason why it should not join the pantheon of Chanel icons in the future and hold its value in the same way as the other sought-after styles. Already, as seen on websites selling second-hand luxury goods, like Vestiaire, a used Chanel 19  in  a popular colour can often fetch a much higher price than a brand new bag.

But while we wait to see what the future holds for the design, those determined to preserve the value of their bags might still want to opt for the Chanel Classic Flap, instead. For now, ot will be a far safer bet, but unfortunately, this certainly comes with a rather hefty price tag. Overall verdict for the Chanel 19 bag: An up-and-coming star. [Back to Menu]

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Photos by Irene Pedrosa (https://asturgirl.wixsite.com/irenepedrosa) and Unwrapped Fashion

In the photos I’m wearing: Dress – Sandro Paris | Bag – Chanel 19 | Shoes – Christian Louboutin