Nicole Richie’s Obsession for Chanel

Even if I’ve never fully understood the media’s obsession with celebrities, I must admit it’s funny to identify what they are wearing. The web is packed with sites devoted to this, and I gave my contribution to this craze, being – for some years – the main contributor of Star Style. For a meticulous person like me, identifying as many items as possible of an outfit was really addictive (which is the reason why, at a certain point, I decided to quit). Now I’m not a contributor, but this doesn’t mean I don’t like it anymore: besides writing about Christina Aguilera and Lily Van der Woodsen‘s styles, I sometimes like focusing on a particular feature of a celebrity’s style, as this post shows.

The evolution of Nicole Richie’s style sounds like the story of Cinderella. When she first became famous as Paris Hilton’s best friend, she definitely had some problems with her style (and her hair), but a fairy godmother (Rachel Zoe) soon turned her into the stick-thin icon of boho-chic style, thus sparking rumors about possible eating disorders she may have suffered with. Her first pregnancy (in 2007) and the wise decision to ditch Zoe meant she was ready to fly with her own wings, as her jewelry and clothing lines (House of Harlow 1960 and Winter Kate) have demonstrated. I’ve started to admire her style since she was pregnant with Harlow: she was born a couple of months before my daughter, so her style during those nine months inspired me a lot. She usually sports very simple outfits, which include basic clothes in primary or neutral colours (lots of black and white, dark green or brown) and amazing accessories. Among those, her astonishing collection of Chanel has always left me speechless: most of the vintage pieces come from her mother’s closet, but others come from more recent collections.

Would you like to take a ride through the massive number of Chanel bags she owns? In a recent interview with Lucky, she has declared she owns at least 30 Chanel bags. I’ve found 16 of them, here they are [1].

1. A timeless piece: the Jumbo size of the classic 2.55 flap bag in red. It’s the perfect pop of colour for any outfit, but it looks great with black and white (in this picture, Nicole – who was pregnant with her son Sparrow – was wearing a simple tank and black overalls).

2. and 3. She owns other two 2.55 flap bags in Jumbo size, one in black and one in white. These are vintage pieces, because the metal double C is bigger than the one that you can currently find on the same bag. She sported both bags with very casual outfits: in the first picture, she wore black leggings and tank, a beige cardigan, a fedora hat and Christian Louboutin Miss Boxe wedges; in the second one, she wore Jet by John Eshaya Dark Clean skinny jeans, a fringed top and Christian Louboutin snake pumps.

4. Talking of classic pieces, she owns a 2.55 Reissue flap bag in white. This bag was a homage Karl Lagerfeld wanted to pay to the bag launched by Gabrielle Chanel in 1955: it was first launched in 2005, but has soon become a staple of the French maison. Many are the details which makes it different from the classic 2.55 flap bag, in particular a different chain (this one is all made of metal) and a different lock (this one has the so-called Mademoiselle lock).

5. Another classic bag she owns is the Shopping Tote in Small size, with chain and leather straps, made of quilted leather with the double C embossed on the front. It’s not one of my favourite Chanel bags, but it’s very versatile. Nicole wore it with a sleeveless mini-dress and gorgeous Balenciaga mary-janes.

6. The Bon Bon patent shopper in bordeaux is a piece from the Fall 2008 collection: it has metal and leather chain straps and is closed by drawstrings. I don’t like it very much, but it’s a funny piece to own. I could find only a picture where she carried it: in this case, her outfit included Balenciaga platform boots, Jet by John Eshaya Bolt skinny jeans, a Rick Owens beanie hat, Cutler & Gross sunglasses and a knitted cardigan.

7. The Chain Mail hobo in white is part of the Cruise 2008/2009 collection: it’s a beautiful bag, but the white colour worries me a bit, along with the chain mail strap, which doesn’t look practical at all. Nicole wore it only a couple of times, and paired it with a Decolette racerback printed dress, Bess NY studded moccassins, a black cardigan and a fedora hat.

8. A few moments of silence in front of this amazing Executive tote in python skin from the Fall 2006 collection. Nicole sported a model made of black and green/turquoise python skin, which is simply gorgeous. The shape of the bag is extremely simple, but it’s made special by adding the funny touch of a long decorative tassel.

Now it’s time to step into the fascinating world of vintage bags. In the picture below, taken from the February 2011 issue of Lucky magazine, you can see some of the vintage pieces owned by Nicole. Part of them were inherited by her mother Brenda, but others were purchased at Decades, one of the best vintage stores in Hollywood.

Some of these bags were spotted on Nicole. Let’s start with a quilted tote.

9. She wore this vintage bag to cheer a neutral outfit up: she paired it with Jet by John Eshaya skinny jeans, a tulle and lace cream and black blouse, a black beanie hat, Lanvin flat mary-janes and her trusty Chanel half-tinted sunglasses. I love the shape and the size of this bag: it looks very practical, thanks to the leather (and not chain and leather) straps.

10. Awww, this is definitely one of my favourite pieces of her collection. It’s another vintage tote, bigger than the previous one, with chain and leather straps; it’s made of plain leather and has a quilted band on the lower part. I think I like it so much because it’s big with style…or maybe because Nicole included it in such a cute outfit: she wore a georgette printed dress by Proenza Schouler, an Alexander Wang leather jacket, Balenciaga mary-janes and some necklaces, among which a lovely Cage d’H pendant by Hermès.

11. This vintage Overnight bag is probably the biggest Chanel bag she owns. She has been spotted with it at the airport twice, a good choice because it’s perfect as hand luggage. It’s not quilted but the same effect is achieved through stitching; it has chain and leather straps and a small closing flap, accented by the trademark double C in gold metal. In the first picture, she wore it with a Rick Owens draped cardigan, leggings, black Havaianas and vintage sunglasses; in the second one, she wore skinny jeans, a Winter Kate Smyth vest, C. Z. Falconer Gwynn red beanie hat and black sunglasses.

12. This is one of the vintage bags with tassels she owns. I totally get the reason why she likes them so much: they are small, can be carried anywhere and are perfect with daywear and eveningwear. In the picture above, she carried an aubergine quilted bag with short chain and leather strap and a tassel; she also wore Paige Premium Denim Las Palmas jeans in Beachwood, House of Harlow 1960 Maddie moccassin booties, Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses and a LnA cape tee in white.

13. The second quilted small bag she owns is black, has a chain strap, a pocket on the outside and a tassel. She first carried it in 2006, wearing a very casual outfit, including wide pants, a black tee, knitted boots and a shearling coat, but has carried it many other times since. The latest appearance of this bag was in December 2010, when she wore a printed dress, Givenchy cut-out sandals, a Paige Premium Denim Vermont jacket in Westward and House of Harlow 1960 oversized sunglasses.

14. As far as I know, this is the only WOC (Wallet on Chain) she owns. This is a vintage piece, made of lizard leather; again, the quilted effect is given by stitching and not by actual quilting. She carried this bag in 2009, when she attended March of Dimes 4th Annual Celebration of Babies, a charity event, in Hollywood: she also wore a beautiful vintage printed dress and Christian Louboutin Very Prive peep-toe pumps.

15. One of her most treasured bags is a rare piece, a small bag with a “sack” shape and golden details. I first thought it was a back-pack but, after seeing it among other bags on Lucky magazine, I realized I was wrong. Above, the picture on the right portrays a vintage back-pack, so you can see the shape is the same: they have a small flap with a double C closure and drawstrings terminating in gold beads, embossed with double C. Nicole’s bag has a long chain and leather strap.

16. Last but not least, here is one of my favourite bags, a vintage quilted piece with a lunch-box shape. The shape is super-cute but I also like its versatility: thanks to the long strap and the chain and leather handle, you can carry it as a shoulder or a hand bag. Practical, isn’t it? In the picture above, Nicole wore it with an all-black outfit – a short-sleeved sweater dress, Modern Vintage Mack Spat Buckle boots, nice lace gloves (a touch of 80s style) and Thierry Lasry Velvety sunglasses.

I don’t own a Chanel bag and I think I’ll never own one, because I hopelessly am a Balenciaga girl, but if I could choose one bag, I would surely go for a 2.55 flap bag in Jumbo size, better if pre-owned (I love the look of old bags). If you are the proud owners of Chanel bags, which styles do you have? Which piece of Nicole’s envy-worthy collection do you like most?

[1]  Something I admire of Nicole’s style is that she wears the same clothes and accessories several times, just like the rest of us. In this post, I’ve just picked some pictures where she’s carrying Chanel bags, but she’s carried the same bags in many other occasions.

Source, source, source, source and source.




  1. The only Chanel item I own is Rouge Noir nail polish- I don’t think I’ll ever be able to afford anything Chanel other than makeup for a long time!
    Still, I can dream! My favourites are the Oversized Quilted Tote and the Overnight Tote -I love huge, bulky, comforting bags! I also like the “Lunch box” bag, and I looooove the way Nicole styled it.
    Also, I totally second your love of pre-used bags. It gives them so much character!
    (A little “freak note” here: everytime I spot a Vuitton bag, the first thing I look at are the handles, because I love the warm shade that the leather acquires when it ages!)

    1. Me too! I own some Chanel nail polishes (not Rouge Noir), an eye-shadow palette and Chanel n°5, that’s all. Sometimes I think I could save money enough to buy a Jumbo 2.55 flap bag (it would take me several years), but I don’t feel like spending so much money on one object only. Furthermore, to be honest, since B was born, my craving for bags has definitely calmed down.

      Awww, the patina on Vuitton’s bag handles is nice, isn’t it?

  2. Vintage Chanel bags i’d never seen! As well as jewelry. I wanted to buy some jacket shaped Chanel earings but in the end I’m always enable to establish a true price for 2nd hand things and I’m scared to over Pay them.
    I just own a Jumbo 2.55 black cos i cannot afford a lot of Chanel and so i decided to buy The most classical one, n’es pa?

    1. You chose the best Chanel bag ever! I’d love to own one because I really think it’s a timeless style. Black is amazing, but I’d love to buy it in red, just like Nicole’s 🙂

      I love Chanel costume jewellery but I’ve never thought to buy it because, even if vintage or pre-owned, it’s still so expensive.

  3. I totally agree with so Kiara. Chanel is very expensive for my budget.
    But, if things turn over, I will buy the Vintage Overnight bag, my favourite over all.
    I adore all big bags.

    p.s. off the point: as christmas gift, Fiancé gave me Chanel n.5 parfume, I know, maybe, it’s a bit ladylike but I love it, it’s so elegant and sophisticated…

    1. I LOVE Chanel n°5, so I totally get your excitement. I used it when I was at university (a generous boyfriend gave it to me as birthday present); I’ve recently bought it again because – as you said – it’s so elegant and sophisticated. The best powdery perfume ever.

  4. My best friend owns a black Reissue bag, given by a friend of hers who didn’t use it anymore… how lucky is she? And how silly is her friend? Anyway, despite it’s not my favourite, I must admit I absolutely envy her!

  5. Loved this analysis Terry!
    I own a vintage lambskin Chanel mini (it’s smaller than the Lunch Box style above)in yellow that I acquired from a Japanese vintage store. I use it when going out on the weekends but am reluctant to use it frequently because I feel like Chanel bags, real or fake, are everywhere! Though I have to say, I’m glad my purse is fun and colorful.
    I’m totally in agreement with you and your love of Balenciaga. That’ll be my next bag purchase.

    1. I’m glad you liked it 🙂

      It’s true: Chanel bags (most of them are fake, I guess) seem to be everywhere, but I’d gladly wear mine, if I had one. Your yellow mini bag is surely lovely, I love bright colours.

      Awww, Balenciaga has stolen my heart with its bags. I’m currently lemming the Folk flap bag, but I’d like to buy it in a bright colour (I have two black B bags, one dark brown and one cornflower), but I still haven’t found it. Do you like a specific style?

  6. Io adoro la lunch box! E’ deliziosa.
    Non mi dispiacerebbe acquistare una chanel piccolina, magari rossa, ma è il prezzo a fermarmi… Costano quasi come quelle grandi e ovviamente si sfruttano meno!
    Ho un secchiello vintage in lambskin caramello, una GST e una Jumbo in caviar nero, quindi una half moon rossa sarebbe perfetta! 🙂

    1. Sei una donna fortunata!

      Sarà un po’ troppo piccolo, ma come modello preferisco la misura mini della 2.55. Lo trovo adorabile!

  7. Truth be told, I guess I’ll never own a handbag from Chanel (or any others clothes from the house), but I’d love to own a vintage purse from the 1970s, no matter which one.
    My only Chanel obsession is my rather large Chanel polish collection. I also own a bottle Chanel Mme EdP & a vintage N° 5 extrait.
    Thank you for this very informative post 🙂

    1. Chanel nail polishes are so unique, most of the time, but I think their quality is not always utmost! For example, Paradoxal has a good staying power (only if matched with base and top coat), but Nouvelle Vague is not as good as Paradoxal. I’ve never tried red nail polishes by Chanel, I guess I must give them a chance!

  8. I love Chanel bags and I own quite a few, but they are all pre-loved because that’s the only way I can afford them. The rarer the better!

    1. I have 3 rare, vintage Chanel bags that I’m interested in selling. The are in great condition, just not my style. I inherited them and would love to see them with someone who would use and enjoy them. They are circa 1970’s & 80’s. One white, round leather with tassel and chain strap, one half flap navy leather and one black leather “camera bag” with tassel and gold chain strap. If you or anyone else are interested in purchasing they from me, please email me at

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