Everything you need to know about buying a vintage Chanel "Diana" flap bag

[Edit: since 2017 we've produced other interesting blog posts on the Diana on size, leather/material and year! Suggest you go and have a quick read if you're a huge Diana fan as well!]

Quick introduction if for some reason you have no idea what bag we’re talking about, the bag in question is a Chanel bag that was produced for around 5 years in the early 1990s. It was popularized by the late Princess Diana, who owned the small version. Arguably, you can’t call yourself a vintage Chanel collector until you’ve purchased one for yourself - this is vintage Chanel 101.

Presenting, the "Diana"
Chanel Diana flap bag

Ever since we soft launched a month ago, we’ve gotten questions about how to tell if our bags are ‘good’. Our bags are good because several hours goes into sourcing each of our bags. Trust in our system and standards. Our bags are not just “good” for a vintage, but good for a Chanel bag, period.

A good way to start is to look at the 2015 version that Chanel released. For copyright reasons, Google it, and then come back here.

Elements of a good Chanel “Diana” bag include:

  • Glossy, smooth buttery leather (if lambskin leather)
  • Puffy quilting (Especially behind and below the flap!)
  • Structured shape, even with no stuffing
  • No wrinkles on the inside of the flap
  • Minimal wrinkles where the flap hinges open
  • The color of the leather matches the color of the string
  • Minimal scuffing on the corners (that is absolutely a no-no here at MGFT)
  • Minimal scratches on the hardware
  • No oxidization of the gold hardware
  • Obviously with an authenticity card that matches the serial sticker etc…

Of all the elements we look for here at MGFT, the most important are the first four and we summarize very quickly on only these four:

Smooth and Buttery Leather
This is a hard one to teach because it comes from experience and it is most easily discernible with touch but of course shopping online makes that impossible. It is hard to see from photos, but normally a reflection in a photo may do the trick.

However, where there is too much perfection in the leather, this should make you cautious. Japanese sellers, great as they are, sometimes will ‘complimentary re-color’ the bag, giving it a sheen and gloss which shows well in photos, but actually make the leather a lot harder and rougher. When in doubt, you should only buy from trusted sellers who know what they are doing.

Here at MGFT, we obviously never buy re-colored vintage items because of color transfer when the bag has contact with oil or water. It also makes the buttery leather go hard and brittle, so what's the point of that? 

Puffy Quilting

This is much easier to teach because it is very obvious from most photos. Look for the shadows and highlights in photos, that will tell you exactly how much sticks out and how much sinks in.

Our advice is this: either buy a completely flat Vintage Diana flap bag, or a completely puffy one. Buying one that is in between makes the bag look very messy and less elegant. That being said, at MGFT, we only source puffy Diana bags because that’s how we like it.

What is “puffy” exactly?
We’ve spoken about this before, but there are three degrees of puffiness to Chanel bags, with the quilting on Vintage Diana being the puffiest of all vintage designs.

Here are the degrees of puffiness:

  1.  Totally flat – for an example of this, look at the base/ butt of any Chanel bag, it is completely flat, this is no puffiness.
  2.  Medium puff – for an example of this look at a vintage Chanel classic double flap, there is puffiness to the bag, but it is certainly not as puffy as the Diana style, nor as puffy as new Chanel classic double flaps.
  3.  Full-on Puff – for an example of this, see our bags here at MGFT. They are all completely puffed out. New Chanel designs also probably even puffier emphasize but the puffs feel much less delicate on the newer bags. 

As our curation standards are relatively high, we look for complete puffiness, throughout the entire bag. From the front, to underneath the flap, to the bottom edges of the bag. 

Size
This is always one of the most popular questions we get asked.

Small and Medium Diana:

Small and Medium Vintage Chanel Diana Flap Bag Comparison

  • The size of a small Diana (in cm): 22.5cm x 14H x 7D
  • The size of a medium Diana (in cm): 26W x 16H x 9D

The Diana cannot be worn double strap, it can only be worn cross body or single strap over the shoulder. Note however, depending on your size, sometimes the cross body styling may NOT be available to you. 

The GENERAL advice we give is if you are under 5ft6”, then we advise buying a small Diana. Princess Diana herself used the small bag (and she was very tall), so there really isn’t any reason in thinking a small wouldn’t suit your size.

If you are of a bigger build or you are completely loyal to your continental wallet, then you should consider buying a medium sized Diana. HOWEVER, we caution against reasoning that you should get a medium sized Diana because you need to carry a lot of things, because all vintage Chanel bags should NOT be used to carry large amounts of things. Heavy things will just weigh the bag down and eventually ruin its shape. Therefore, please refrain from adding “amount of things I can carry” into one of the factors to consider when buying a bag. What you put in a small Diana bag should ALSO be the amount you put in a medium sized Diana!

Now for some shameless self-plugging! After reading this article, hopefully you get a better idea of what to look for when finding your dream Diana bag! We share this with you in the hopes that you take this criterion and weigh it up against ours, so that you can see and compare for yourselves the Diana bags on the market. Undoubtedly, you will find that here at MGFT, we source the highest quality Diana bags for the best price. We price in a way where if you were to go to Japan, you wouldn't be kicking yourself for buying from us.

We are first and foremost Vintage Chanel collectors and so we never sell bags that we ourselves would not want to keep. 

As always, send us an email or follow us on instagram (@mygrandfathersthings) for updates. We post there daily!


7 comments

  • Hi, May i know where can i get 1 of this?
    Serious buyer, do message me please, thanks!

    daniel
  • Thanks for the wonderful article on the Chanel Diana! I’ve been actively shopping for a medium sized one in black lambskin for months! In the remote past I was blessed to find an authentic small Diana from a seller eBay who shipped it from Japan. Now that I’ve read your article, I question the authenticity of the medium Dianas currently being listed on eBay from Japan …. the diamond quilting is completely flat and they seem to churn out 2-3 listings per week! I’m hoping to buy one from you! Where can I find your storefront ? Please contact me when you have one in stock!
    Many thanks!

    Theresa Rodriguez

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