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The Vintage Chanel Executive Cerf Tote is an exceptional piece in my collection. The late Karl Lagerfeld designed this bag around 2006. It is a vintage bag and the oldest piece in my collection. Made in Italy from luxurious and durable deerskin leather and dyed a neutral beige color that transitions beautifully from warm summers to cold winters. Quiet luxury at its best with a subtle CC logo on the front pocket and that’s it!
Interested in buying this exact Chanel Cerf Tote?
I am selling my beloved Cerf tote. I’ve loved it for years but I have my eye on something a bit different (the controversial Chanel 19 LOL). I have listed this Vintage Chanel Executive Cerf on the reputable resale websites below at a fair price (under $900 USD!). So hopefully someone snags it because it is truly a timeless classic and it’s not in the boring black.
Other places you can find this gorgeous tote include:
A Brief History
The Chanel Cerf Tote made its debut in 2005. This style was a permanent staple in the Fashion House’s collections for a decade. Despite being discontinued in 2015, this bag is still widely available on the resale market.
The word “Cerf” translates to “deer” in French. Therefore, it makes sense that initially the Cerf Totes were crafted from deerskin.
Although, very durable, deerskin is quite heavy so Chanel began making other versions of the tote in various types of leather.
Around 2009 or so, the Cerf tote went through a slight redesign and got a new name “Executive” tote. This version came in various leathers and fabrics. Chanel also redesigned the closure, the Cerf closed with 2 interior snaps but the Executive had a fold-over flap closure. “Updated” closure photos courtesy of Jill’s Consignment.
Some of the Executive Cerf Totes had the “CC” turn-lock pocket closure and others had the “Mademoiselle” closure. Photos of the Mademoiselle closure versions of the Cerf Tote courtesy of Fashionphile.
Most styles came with a removable shoulder strap.
Many of the Executive Cerf Totes also had fabric pochettes. These pochettes attached with snap buttons at the sides of the bag, you can see these snaps in some of my photos. Unfortunately, my pouch got lost but here is a photo, courtesy of Vestiaire Collective, to show you what the pouch looks like.
Exterior Features of the Chanel Executive Cerf Tote
This version of the Vintage Chanel Original Cerf Tote features the recognizable double CC turn-lock exterior pocket. Demure yet instantly recognizable.
Spinning the bag to the back, you will find a handy slip pocket, and this one is big unlike some of the Classic Chanel Flaps that don’t even fit a cell phone in their back pockets.
The bag closes with two snaps, one on each side of the interior in the main compartment.
This tote opens very wide and folds beautifully at the sides when closed.
Rolled looping handles are perfect to carry the bag in the crook of your arm.
These large handles are very versatile but they do stand upright even when carried by the shoulder strap.
This is my least favorite part about the Cerf tote, I wish these handles were more limber and laid flat down when shoulder carried.
The removable shoulder strap attaches with lobster claws onto the hidden gold hoops behind the looping handles.
Finally, this bag has one of my must-haves in luxury handbags: FEET!
Four gold studs on each corner protect this beauty from dirt and damage when sat down.
One of the things that makes a Vintage Chanel so beautiful is the perfectly spaced, high quality, and durable stitching. This Cerf Tote has the same color and style of stitching on the entire bag.
Even though this bag is just about twenty years old, the stitching is still holding up beautifully! Just a bit of fraying at the opening where the stitches expand and contrast as the purse is opened and closed.
Otherwise, most of the stitches are tight, not fraying, and almost like new! Very impressive!
Chanel Cerf Tote Leather, Hardware, and Fabric
The leather of this handbag is crafted from vintage deerskin that the “Cerf” tote was named after. “Cerf” means “deer” in French. Cerf leather is pebbled like the signature Chanel Caviar leather but it feels softer, and more malleable than the calfskin Caviar. Malleable leather such as deerskin is oftentimes thought of as being more luxurious or “high end”.
Deerskin is durable and a great option for handbags because of its strength but it is also more pliable and soft. This leather’s elasticity allows the bag to flex and bend easier so to avoid nasty cracks that can occur in stiff leather and canvas. Perhaps that is why this bag has lost its shape after all these years. When sat down it crumbles into a beautiful mess!
The hardware on this bag is gold. I do not believe it’s the vintage 24k gold that you see in older Chanel bags but the gold color is a beautiful deep yellow. Newer Chanel bags tend to have a more neutral gold color hardware but this is really stunning. The deep yellow really pops against the neutral color of the leather.
The interior fabric matches the exterior of the bag and it is created from a polyester satin-like fabric. I am unsure what it is but it feels slightly silky, smooth, and slippery. As you can see in the photo below, the fabric in the large main compartment can be partially removed to spot clean or shake out dirt from the inside. This leads me to the interior features of this practical tote.
Interior Features of the Chanel Cerf Tote
This tote is definitely made for those of us who carry everything and the kitchen sink in our bags (aka Moms).
This bag is not only HUGE when opened up but the handles and the shoulder strap are both durable and made with comfort in mind.
When unsnapped, the Chanel Cerf Tote opens up very wide for easy access to all your items. Making it easy to access large heavy items like laptops and books in and out of the bag.
The largest compartment, the main storage of the tote closes with four gold, magnetic snaps (two on each side). The snaps make closing and opening this handbag easy. They are surprisingly strong and will remain snapped closed unless the bag is excessively full.
For that reason, if you are traveling in an airport, train station, or other public transit, be aware that the bag does not close securely as it would with a zipper closure.
Continuing to explore the main compartment, there is a zipper closure pocket with the universally recognizable CHANEL® Made in Italy leather patch.
This logo is expertly embossed onto the leather patch and stamped with gold paint.
The zipper teeth are plastic in this bag but the zipper pull and zipping mechanism is gold-toned metal. The zipper pull is a trapezoid-like shape with engraved interlocked CCs on one side and CHANEL engraved vertically, one letter at a time, on the reverse.
On the opposite side, there is another zip-closure pocket identical to the one mentioned above but it does not have the Chanel logo patch.
Missing: Interior Fabric Zip Closure Pouch
Unfortunately, my tote did not come with the removable fabric pouch as I purchased it second-hand from The Real Real in September of 2021 (for $1,695 + tax + shipping). I like to be transparent about the cost of my items so here is a screenshot of my invoice with all the details so you can be well informed as a shopper.
As you can see the bag came with a strap only. No authenticity card and no removable fabric pouch. You can still find many of these vintage Chanel Cerf Bags that include the pouch, strap, and authenticity card but the cost does go up so it’s a trade-off. For me personally, it didn’t matter if the bag came with the authenticity card or pouch.
The pouch connects to the two small snaps you see on each shorter side of the bag (see the photo above with the snaps circled in red). I actually didn’t know about the removable pouch until I started doing research on this bag after purchasing it. I always wondered what those snaps were for!
The pouch comes with snaps at the ends which easily go in and out of the bag as needed. This makes this giant tote easier to organize for sure! Below are some photos of Chanel Cerf Totes which included the fabric pouch. These photos are courtesy of Vestiaire Collective from various sellers.
Chanel Serial Number
The Chanel Serial Number location is within the large compartment of the Cerf Tote.
The leather tag with the Serial Number sticker is sewn onto the interior lining of the bag.
It is located on the side of the non-Chanel branded interior zip pocket on the lower left-hand side as you look inside with the double CC turn-lock closure pocket on the bottom (closest to you).
External Side Pockets of the Cerf Tote
The Chanel Cerf Tote and Executive Cerf Tote feature two external pockets on each side of the bag. These pockets are pretty good in size and will fit many items for easy access. The pockets are also lined in the same fabric as the main compartment.
The back pocket does not have a closure it is just a simple slip pocket. This pocket fits many items as it is ginormous. The fact that it does not have a closure, makes putting items in and out easy. Since there is no way to secure this compartment, placing it against the body when carrying makes it a bit more secure.
The front of the bag has another pocket similar in size to the slip pocket at the back of the bag but this one has a closure. Not just ANY closure but the iconic Chanel double CC turn-lock closure!
This bag’s main attraction and the only place you will see the Chanel logo. Definitely a low-key, quiet luxury kind of bag!
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