Chanel Boy or Diorama (That is the Question)

Following up on my recent post on my favorite Dior handbags, this post will be my thoughts on the Diorama vs. Chanel Boy. I’ve debated between these two bags for over two years now (not exaggerating) and recently while working on the Dior post, I caught the Diorama vs. Chanel Boy fever (again). I finally decided it’s time to dig in, research, and make a decision once and for all. This post will cover topics from price, size, resale value, staying power, and more. If you are also torn between these two bags then hopefully this post will be helpful!

The Chanel Boy and Diorama are both undoubtedly beautiful, they are very similar and different at the same time. Here are the key considerations:

Both the Diorama and the Chanel Boy come in various sizes and for both I like the small and (old) medium sizes the most. I think the small would look the best on a petite frame while the medium / old medium would be more practical. The wallet-on-chains are great if you want the design and have a limited budget. I personally have too many small bags so I am shying away from the WOCs. The new medium and large sizes have more carrying capacity but it can look overwhelming f you aren’t tall enough. On size I am pretty much decided on the medium for Diorama and the old medium for Chanel Boy.

Design and Staying Power
Now let’s talk about the designs of these two handbags. These two bags are often compared due to the similarities between the designs. They both tout the boxy shape, the chunky metal strap with the adjustable leather portion on the top, the flap closure, the border, and more. It’s hard to deny that the bags are not similar and because the Chanel Boy was introduced in 2011 and the Diorama was introduced in 2015, the Diorama is often criticized as copying the Chanel Boy. As a result, many people argue that one should get the Chanel Boy because it was the “original”.

To some degree I agree with that argument and I generally prefer to buy the “original” design. However, in this case, I think the Diorama and Chanel Boy have enough differences that it would be fairer to evaluate the bags separately. The Diorama sports the enlarged cannage print from Dior while the Chanel Boy comes with Chanel’s classic quilting. The pattern difference gives the bags different looks and feels. To me, the Diorama gives off a more contemporary vibe while the quilted Chanel Boy is dressier. Secondly, the closure of the Chanel Boy is a cinched lock while the Diorama uses a push closure. Either way, I think for anyone debating between the two bags, it would be silly to buy one or the other just because one was the “original”. Can you imagine if someone argued in 2007 to not get the iPhone because it was not the original touchscreen phone or smartphone? Sounds pretty ridiculous right?

Although the Diorama and the Chanel Boy have a unique and specific design, they also both have sub-designs or variations.
The most popular Diorama design is the enlarged cannage print (upper left blue bag). The second most popular design is the micro-cannage motif (bottom right silver bag). Besides these two designs, other Diorama variations include multi-colored, studded, other printed patterns, and exotic leathers. My favorite design is still the enlarged cannage print, the simple and symmetrical lines make the bag very modern, sophisticated, and timeless.

The Chanel Boy also comes in various sub-designs. The original is the classic quilting (upper left metallic bag), and then there is the large chevron print (bottom right black bag). Other designs include small chevron, Chanel Boy with a top handle, interwoven pattern, hardware outlines, etc. My favorite is definitely the large chevron print. In fact, I am not a big fan of the classic quilting on the Chanel Boy, personally I think it looks too busy. The modern chevron print fits perfectly with the casual Boy design. Large chevron print + Chanel Boy is just so beautiful!

In terms of staying power, the Chanel Boy and Diorama’s staying powers will be the same in my opinion. Both bags are a key designs promoted by Chanel and Dior and due to their classic designs, I don’t see them going out of style any time soon. Both bags will be loved and chased after for a while unless structured, boxy bags are no longer popular and the trend completely leans towards large, unstructured bags.

Price / Resale Value / Price Increases

A key difference between the two bags is the price. Chanel Boy in the old medium size retails for $4,700 while the Diorama in the medium size retails for $3,400. Both are expensive bags but the Diorama costs $1,300 (~30%) less than the Chanel Boy! If your heart is set on the Chanel Boy then you shouldn’t let the $1.3K deter you from getting the bag you’ve been lusting after. However, if you are undecided, $1.3K is a huge price difference and the question comes down to whether the brand Chanel or Dior is more “worth it” to you.

Although Chanel loses in price, it wins in resale value. Based on listing prices of Chanel Boys on online resale websites, the Chanel Boy goes for near full retail price and sometimes even more than retail price if the design is unique or the color is rare. Diorama on the other hand you can find for ~30-40% off; for example, you can find medium Diorama on Fashionphile for ~$2K. The resale value of a bag is important even if you don’t plan on selling the bag. Tastes do change and a bag that you thought you would never sell might find itself never used in 5-10 years. Having a good resale value is not a must when you purchase a designer bag but it is a nice “insurance” and can give you a piece of mind in case you do want to sell it in the future. Moreover, Chanel is notorious for frequent price increases, so if you know you will eventually buy a Chanel Boy then sooner is better than later.

If you are debating between buying new vs. pre-loved, I would recommend buying the Chanel Boy directly from the boutique so you will have a piece of mind that the handbag is authentic, plus you won’t save that much by going the pre-loved route. Then for the Diorama, I would recommend taking a lot at the pre-loved market, ~40% savings pre-loved vs. new is pretty enticing! If you are comfortable with buying pre-loved then the price difference is even more glaring: a $4.7K new Chanel Boy vs. a $2K a pre-loved Diorama. Is Chanel worth $2.7K more?

Another consideration is the Chanel Boy vs. Chanel Classic Flaps. Every time I think about the Chanel Boy, I always find myself comparing it to the Classic Flap. For $4.7K I am getting a fabric-lined Chanel Boy vs. $4.9K I am getting a full leather lined Classic Flap. Personally, I like the Classic Flap design better and between the two, I think the Classic Flap is more “worth” the money. Even though I already own a Classic Flap, if I were to spend that much money again, I would rather buy another Classic Flap or I would get a rectangular mini in the large chevron print for $3.1K.

Overall, I think the Diorama wins on price. I think if price was not an issue or the bags are priced similarly then I would lean towards the Chanel Boy. One could argue since I am spending so much money on a bag I might as well spend a little more and get the bag I truly want. The issue is I don’t like the Chanel Boy that much more to justify the $1.3K difference (or $2K+ difference if I get a pre-loved Diorama). Lastly, if I were to spend nearly $5K, I would personally prefer to get another Classic Flap instead of the Chanel Boy.

Leather Type and ColorsOnce you decide on Diorama or Chanel Boy, the next step is to decide on the leather and color.

The Diorama comes in grained calfskin, metallic calfskin, and lambskin. Calfskin is more durable and scratch resistant while the lambskin is more luxurious and delicate. Between the grained and metallic calfskin, the grained calfskin is more casual while the glossy / embossed metallic calfskin looks more formal and dressy. Based on reviews online, both types of calfskin are relatively carefree. Chanel Boy mainly comes in caviar or lambskin. Caviar is more durable and carefree while the lambskin is butter smooth and delicate. Read my relevant post on the two leather types: Chanel Caviar or Lambskin – 20 Key Considerations.  Both the Diorama and Chanel Boy come in other materials including various exotic skins. In the last few seasons, the Chanel Boy also comes in velvet and tweed.

In terms of color, both bags come in various colors. Black is the most popular for the Chanel Boy while the grey and metallic colors are more popular for the Diorama. My ideal Chanel Boy color would be a soft or bright pink and my ideal Diorama would be the grey or burgundy.

Overall I think the biggest differences between the Chanel Boy and Diorama are price, brand, and design. It comes down to which design you prefer and which price point you are comfortable with. Personally, I think my brain completely leans towards Diorama while my heart may lean every so slightly towards the Chanel Boy. Generally my heart always win but I think my brain wins this time. Time to keep an eye out for a grey or burgundy Diorama on the pre-love market!

Thank you for reading! If you have both bags or if you are also debating between the two, I would love to hear your thoughts and considerations in the comments below!


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