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Photo: Courtesy of Designer Vault

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This Consignment Shop Has the Largest Collection of Vintage Chanel in the U.S.

New York and Los Angeles may boast a sizable number of vintage shops, but none of them specialize in Chanel quite like Designer Vault. The consignment shop, owned by founder Christina Samoylov, has exclusively sold the Parisian-based brand online for about two years. Now that its first-ever physical showroom just opened in Carlsbad, California, you can see and shop the largest collection of rare and vintage Chanel pieces in the United States in person.

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The seaside town located 80 miles south of Los Angeles — halfway between Orange County and San Diego — may not be the most obvious location for a collection of this size, but it's probably your best bet for finding that one rare Chanel piece you've been dying to get your hands on. "People will drive in from all over the country just to come see us," said Samoylov. "It may not seem like it, but there's a real market here for Chanel."

One look at Designer Vault's new digs and its ever-growing inventory (2,000+ pieces), and you'll realize just how worthwhile that drive is. New and mint condition jewelry, bags, shoes, and accessories all bearing those infamous interlocking C's are beautifully showcased throughout. The shop is practically a museum for Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld fans, not to mention one of the only places in the States where you can see this many rare Chanel pieces in one single space.

Samoylov didn't always have that specific French designer brand in mind. In fact, her career as a consignment buyer began with an Italian one.

"I came home, and my husband had a pair of Prada boots in the trash. I listed them on eBay and they sold for like $80. He couldn't believe it," said Samoylov. "It just proved to me that people will pay a premium for a brand even if it's in really poor condition. Everyone wants a taste of these luxury brands so they can feel a part of that cult."

Shortly after, she went to one of her former professors at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising with her idea of a new consignment store. "She loved the idea and let me start with her closet. My clients just sort of grew by word of mouth from there," Samoylov said.

It wasn't until 2014 that Samoylov realized her online shop, which was selling a variety of designer labels, could benefit from a rebrand. As consignment websites like the The Real Real, Tradesy, and Poshmark began popping up, differentiating Designer Vault became more and more difficult.

In 2013, Miley Cyrus had come to her with a proposition — she needed some Chanel bags. "I didn't have this specific bag she was looking for, but I told her I could pretty much source anything," Samoylov said. "So I put my knowledge to the test, and I sourced all of her bags for her Bangerz tour that year."

And it didn't stop there. Cyrus also needed some Chanel jewelry to match all of her new Chanel bags. "So I went back to one of my really big clients and asked if they had any Chanel jewelry, and they literally brought me a truck load full," Samoylov said.

Now, Designer Vault deals exclusively in vintage, rare, and timeless Chanel pieces. And if they don't have what you're looking for in stock, Samoylov will source it and find it for you within 30 days. The company also created an online Authenticator Program that can determine if your Chanel bag is real or not in just 24 hours for the price of $10.

Chanel is probably one of the most recognizable luxury brands in the world, and it's resale value isn't too shabby either. The brand's "Medium Classic flap bag" cost less than $1,400 in 2004, but now resells for around $4,300. According to Samoylov, this makes it one of the most prominent luxury brands on the resale market.

But that's not the only reason she chose to specialize in Chanel at Designer Vault.

"I feel like Designer Vault has a lot of heritage. We're a family-owned business, and we don't have outside investors. I think our core values match up with Chanel's core values," said Samoylov. "While some designers jump from house to house, Chanel will always have Karl Lagerfeld. He's going to be there until the day he dies despite any rumors. It's something really special that not a lot of brands have anymore."

Credits: (Clockwise from top left) Chanel vintage black lambskin leather portfolio tote bag, $3,950; Chanel vintage gold "CC" heart cuff, $1,450; Chanel pearl-shaped plexiglass miniaudiere bag, $25,000; Chanel pink lambskin leather mini flap bag, $3,325.

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