Last week saw Cultural Comms host a preview of the remarkable The Art of Luxury: Chanel sale at world-renowned auction house Bonhams, timed to coincide with the opening of the V&A’s Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto exhibition. Featuring an iconic selection of vintage Chanel items - including bags, jewellery and haute couture items handcrafted in the Chanel atelier - The Art of Luxury, taking place online until 21 September, is not to be missed.

To discover more about 2023's most fashionable sale, we spoke to Bonham's UK Head of Designer Handbags & Fashion Meg Randell, who discussed the star lots on offer from the iconic maison, her favourite items from the sale, and what she believes drives people's desire to collect luxury bags and apparel. 

If you weren't Bonhams' European and UK Head of Designer Handbags & Fashion, what would you do?

I’m lucky enough to have my dream job, and so I really couldn’t imagine doing anything else. If I wasn’t working at Bonhams then I hope it’s because I’ve retired early and I’m travelling the world!

What do you like to do when you're not working?

I’m really into fitness, but I especially love to dance! I go to an amazing dance class every week at the gym and it’s the highlight of my week. I also love swimming in the lido, even in winter when it can get pretty chilly.

Who or what inspires you in a professional capacity?

The beauty of the handbags I get to sell inspires me. Who wouldn’t love to be surrounded by beautiful bags every day?

What drew you to Designer Handbags & Fashion? 

I studied History of Art at university and have always worked in auctions, but only started specialising in handbags and fashion around 10 years ago when I spotted a gap in the market. I was fortunate, as this was really the start of the handbag boom meaning that I was one of the first to open a specialist handbag department at an auction house.

What drives people’s desire for collectible handbags and apparel?

Handbags are such a great collecting market because they perfectly blend passion shopping with academic collecting and investment purchasing. It’s one of the few categories where you can buy something you really love, carefully use it, and often sell it a year later for a profit.

Do you collect yourself? If so, what’s the last piece you’ve collected?

I wouldn’t say I collect, but I have amassed a few great pieces, in particular some incredible 1990s Chanel jackets and dresses that I’m very proud of. Sadly my budget doesn’t stretch to Hermes handbags yet!

Bonhams is hosting the Art of Luxury sale for Chanel until 21st September: what’s your favourite piece from the collection and why? 

The Art of Luxury: Chanel auction has almost 350 incredible Chanel lots, including handbags, fashion, accessories and gorgeous costume jewellery, so it’s difficult to choose just one! There are some amazing ‘90s Chanel jackets, for example Lot 154 which dates from 1991 but looks so contemporary and would look amazing paired with jeans. However, the star of the jackets is definitely Lot 42 (pictured above). It dates from 1966 and so will have been worked on by Gabrielle Chanel herself.

I also completely love Lot 259, a Robert Gossens for Chanel rose quartz crucifix pendant as it’s incredibly rare and important. An example of this was worn by Naomi Campbell down the Chanel Autumn 1993 runway.

What's next for the Designer Handbag & Fashion team at Bonhams?

We’re working on our October 25th Designer Handbags and Fashion auction, which will feature, amongst other designer pieces,  amazing Hermes handbags, even more Chanel pieces, and some gorgeous early 20th Century Louis Vuitton trunks. It’s a live auction, and as I am the auctioneer I always find these sales particularly exciting.

Art of Luxury; Chanel ends on 21 September. Click here to view the lots and place your bid.