February 22, 2014

Celine on a Budget - My Vintage Celine Box Bag

   For many fashion lovers out there who are on a strict budget, it can be hard to shell out your hard earned money for this season's latest "it bag" especially if the new season's it bag is over $3,000. So what's a girl to do? Well, luckily for us, fashion is cyclical and builds on the trends of the past. A perfect example is the much coveted  Celine Box Bag. It is entirely possible to get an authentic Celine box bag at only a fraction of the price!

First, a little history about the brand!
  • Founded by Celine Vipiana in 1945 as a French luxury brand who oversaw the brand from its inception until 1997 when Michael Kors stepped in as Creative Director.
  • When spearheaded by Kors, the brand went through a major rehaul and it was around this time when Celine became known for their handbags.
  • In 2008, Phoebe Philo assumed the role of Creative Director and holds it to this day.
       Which brings us to 2014 where under the current creative guise of Philo, the minimalistic Celine Luggage, Trapeze, and Trio bags were born. 

Current Celine Bags designed by Philo

         But what about the Celine Box bag? Fashion history buffs will know that Philo was not the creator of the Box bag, but rather dug into the fashion house's archives and redesigned the classic bag in 2009. In actuality, the Celine Box bag has been worn on the shoulders of women since the 1970's. Since its reintroduction to the fashion world by Philo, there has been a slew of women searching for its vintage Box sister (obviously I'm guilty as charged). And it's not hard to figure out why, just look at the similarity of the old Box to the new Box.

The new Spring 2014 Celine box & my vintage Celine box circa 1970's

What to do if you're searching for a vintage Box bag?       
       If you're in the market for a vintage Celine box bag, I would recommend first doing your research. There are many different versions of the box bag and the biggest differences are the clasps. Second, scour e-commerce sites to search for a bag that meets your specifications, but be patient! Obviously your perfect bag isn't going to appear overnight.

      Honestly, ebay is the best resource to find vintage Celines, but I've also found a few good pieces on Etsy and I know Rakuten (a site where you can buy goods from sellers based in Japan) also has a handful of choices. The best reputable resellers on ebay are a few Japanese resellers - they carry a big selection and usually offer free expedited shipping. Depending on the condition of the bag, they can sell as low as $200 and as high as $900 for an almost flawless piece.

      Although I would worry about the condition of the bag, the presence of superficial scratches, moldy hardware, and worn corners are unfortunately part of the deal when it comes to vintage bags. The most important thing to look for is anything that cannot be fixed with a little bit of polishing or the application of leather conditioner. I personally used Apple Guard on my vintage Celine and it looks brand new to the naked eye. However, if you're set on purchasing a piece that needs expert attention, I would prepare to invest around $200-400 depending on what needs to be fixed.

But what about authenticity issues?
       Luckily for us, there probably weren't many counterfeits of vintage Celine bags back then. Also, common sense tells us that well built bags last for years if they are well taken care of whereas their fake counterparts, well...they don't!

       Secondly, if you're wondering why the Japanese have access to so many vintage Celines, it's because the brand has been distributing there since the 1960's. Japan was one of the first few countries where Celine established brick & mortar stores.

       Lastly, if you're still on the fence about authenticity, being a member of The Purse Forum gives you access to "Authenticate This" threads where knowledgable purse connoisseurs can give you a second opinion.

Happy vintage hunting!!


  1. Hi. Do you also know if several vintage Celine bags can have the same serialnr. ? I have one with serialnr. MC96 and there is a star (*) under the number. Also there is no ´ in CĂ©line, just CELINE. Can it be authentic? I've had it for years and bought from an authorised secondhand dealer.

    Thank in advance! :)

  2. Hi Jenny! I'm not sure about serial numbers since my vintage box does not seem to have one. Although, my box also says CELINE without the acute accent above the "E." I'm not sure how old your vintage box is, but if you're curious about comparing it to other vintage box styles, check out this helpful thread from The Purse Forum: http://forum.purseblog.com/celine-reference-library/celine-other-vintage-bags-reference-thread-658558.html

    Hope this helps! xoxo

  3. Dear Lana,

    Thank you so much, this was really helpful! :)



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