Chanel Gabrielle Bag Review



You know it all, you’ve seen it all, you bought it all, you have it all. Just when an old handbag addict like me starts to think nothing can ever surprise me anymore, it happens. And what is worse, in this case, it is not even the win-win situation as it still gives me a bit of a trouble, despite of it being the leader in my current- rotation gang.

When I first saw her live at the show, my mouth made a shape of what would best be described as ‘I just ate three lemons at once’. I was close enough to the runway to see it in close detail- its shape, texture, the overall vibe. Styled with lace negligee skirts and tweed jackets, it looked so off I kept shaking my inner head.

The show resumed, the discussion still continued. Even people from the very depths of the industry all agreed with me- THAT bag (still without a name) was just…well… Ugly.

Clothes go so fast these days, one tends to forget how it used to be when waiting for the new season pieces seemed never ending. Not anymore, because it wasn’t long enough and there was THAT bag again, live, for me, ready to be tried, tested and acquired. But not so fast, not so fast. As this one was going to be quite a tough nut.

I humbly think I had personally experienced all the real nuances of bag loving, bag dreaming, bag hating, bag discovering, bag re-discovering and bag condemning. Some of my bags were ‘mine’ at first sight, some of them I regretted buying the minute I walked out of the store. Some needed a little time to ‘grow on me’, others I regretted passing on. So much so that I still, to this very day, chase some older pieces – a challenge for a hunter who has his heart and eyes firmly set on his pray. In other words I have been to the moon and back with this fashion accessory, which I (not once) elevated to such an important level as to give it so much thought, time and energy as described above.

However, none of it is applicable when it comes to THAT bag: The Gabrielle.

Not even my SA (who knows my taste quite well) convinced me a bit when she sent me a bunch of photos of the new arrival, with an almost child-like excitement and joy. I again did call it horrid, perceiving it as something which reminded me of the village ladies’ totes back in the early 90’s. The bucket shape, the hard bottom, the whole thing just so odd, odd, odd. A few days later a friend of mine carrying it nicely- styled to a dinner wasn’t much of a help either. Nothing special, not me, still a big no.

To be completely honest, hate always carries a bit of love in itself. There is that strange thing hidden inside the emotion, barely coming out, but yet so present. Sometimes we like the things we hate in this funny twisted way. I looked at the Gabrielle so many times. I looked again, at all the different sizes and colors, with so many stylings, on so many women. I was kind of drawn to the strap chains, I appreciated the versatility of them and the way you can wear it in multiple ways. I even started to get to like the idea of the mixed colour of the hardware- a dilemma we all analyze endlessly: gold or silver, matte or shiny? All. Solved. But still, something held me back, preventing me to take the leap of actually adding this bag to my collection.

There is another major issue I’ve had for some time now and it concerns all things “it” and “hot”. I must not have them. More precisely, I do not want to. All things which are instant hits flooding the media and universe like a viral infection turn me right off. So when all the hype about the Gabrielle bag began, in my eyes it really did not add to its charm. Yes, it’s the biggest release since LeBoy from 2011. Yes, it’s bold, unisex and timeless just like Coco (and all the Chanel bags, in fact) was. Yes, all the cool people like Caroline Maigret and Pharrell promote it. But is it really worth the attention, the buzz, our money and most importantly- our everlasting love?

Well, the answer isn’t quite so simple. I gave it a go, simply because my birthday- related destiny arranged it so. I unpacked it, and there she was- my choice of my first Gabrielle. Smallest in size, all black in color, ‘The queen of black bags’ no wonder they call me. She stared at me, I stared back.

And now comes the part where I will try to be as pragmatic as possible with such a tricky subject:

1. My choice of size was best given the fact the larger this bag is, the more weird- looking the shape becomes. However, people who will buy it as an everyday bag will sure be thrilled about the spaciousness of it. If my smallest size easily acommodates my wallet, keys, phone, charger and cosmetic pouch just imagine what the medium and large can hold.

2. I do love the material. The top of it is made of the signature diamond-stitched distressed skin, which makes the bag carefree, not the case with the bottom of it though. The hard bottom part covered in smooth leather will be prone to scratches and scuffs, especially on the base as it is lacking any metal feet other bags of this style do have.

3. The versatility of this bag is its biggest triumph. The way it looks absolutely equally right with jeans and sneakers as it does with a casual cocktail dress and heels is génial. The mystery of this lies in the bucket/tote/gondola shape of the body of the bag, which is rather sporty/casual looking in combination with the hard and structured bottom of it, which is definitely more formal.

4. The straps are are a chapter in itself. They lend the bag the ulimate chameleon qualities as they are dressy, but have all the colours of the hardware. And it doesn’t end there. They are attached to the bag in such a manner it can be worn in multiple ways – crossbody, over the shoulder, over both shoulders or over one shoulder and your waist. The latter two serve as straps and as a costume jewellery at the same time, just adding to the unique quality of the Gabrielle. The zipper pull also serves a double-purpose because of its quite chunky CC logo on a leather chain, basically a kind of a bag charm.

5. One can only imagine the array of the colours and materials of this handbag made in the future. My guess is it will be endless. While it is already being produced in bicolor options (white/black, beige/black, navy/black, all black, silver, gold or multicolour with reds, greens and yellows), the fall collection will introduce Gabrielle in suede and tweed too.

Alas, the question stands: to buy or not to buy? Gabrielle is the only one who can give us the answer. I try to wear mine everyday now, hoping to fall in love with it. I praise it for its practicality and I love the fact not everyone will find it charming, so it most likely won’t become as popular as the classic flaps or its predecessor LeBoy. But the LOVE is still not quite here and I can’t predict whether it will ever come. Love for bags is somewhat like love for boys. Some bursts out bright and burn out fast, some takes two or more sights to happen, and some comes only after years and lasts forever. We shall see…


Read Related Articles:
First Glimpses of the Chanel Gabrielle Bag
New at Chanel: The Chanel Gabrielle Bag

Other Articles by @evelinaesc
Total Eclipse of Luxury
Bag Journey: Where I Stand.. And Where Do You?
The Increasing Accessibility of High Fashion
Chanel vs. Hermes: Is Hermes Losing It’s No. 1 Position


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Thank you for such a candid review! I’m in the same boat: not sure if I hate this bag and think it’s ugly, or will think it’s brilliant and should buy it…

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My first impression was similar, but I couldnt stop looking at it. Ended up getting the small white and black, and know I am going for the bigger one in blue suede and black bottom. (in this post)

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