Goossens: historic couture jeweller opens in London
Longtime collaborator of Chanel, the famous goldsmith has set up home in Mayfair
During lockdown, we have all missed the positive psychological boost that comes from shopping in-store. So here’s some rather glamorous and exciting news from the bricks-and-mortar front: French heritage couture jewellery house, Goossens, has set up a brand new boutique located on Burlington Gardens, Mayfair, just a stone’s throw from Chanel.
The proximity between the two boutiques has important historical significance. In 1953, Robert Goossens met Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel who commissioned the then 26-year-old jeweller to create a variety of opulent home decor pieces for her famous rue Cambon apartment in Paris. These included a table with an ornate wheat sheaf base and a trio of golden lions made in a Persian style and huddled together to serve as a pedestal for one of her favourite keepsakes, a rock crystal globe gleaned from an antique chandelier. Chanel, who was wild about astrological symbolism (she was a Leo), was charmed by Goossens’ zoomorphic design and his flair for creativity, which effectively championed grand gestures in costume jewellery hitherto reserved for haute joaillerie pieces cast in rubies, emeralds and diamonds.
The work marked the start of a lifelong collaboration between the two creatives with Goossens referring to the couturier, who was 44 years his senior, as both a mentor and a friend. Indeed, he once remarked: “If Coco hadn’t taken me under her wing, I’m quite sure no one would have given my work a second glance.” But people did more than just glance, so much so, that before long, Goossens was creating jewellery for a plethora of important designers, among them Cristóbal Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Madame Grès, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy and Christian Lacroix.
It is, however, the partnership between the jewellery maison and the house of Chanel that has remained the strongest - an alliance that continues to this day. Goossens’ gilded pieces (fashioned from brass and dipped in 24ct gold) are instantly recognisable by their organic and sculptural silhouettes inspired by Byzantine art. Icons of design (made for Chanel) include baroque necklaces with oversized crosses and giant cuffs punctuated with pate de verre cabochon gems. Today, Goossens is part of Chanel’s Métiers d’Art family, a stable of exceptional craft practitioners supported by the marque, who work independently as a way of preserving their rare artisanal practises. As such, Goossens not only produces for Chanel, it fashions its own line of jewellery and objects d’art, and continues to collaborate with a variety of luxury fashion houses as it has done since the 1950s.
The new London boutique is the perfect fusion of tradition and contemporary verve. Its crisp white interior is set aglow by gilded wonders shaped by Goossens’ signature house style, with many decorative pieces echoing the company’s rich past. For example, ornate mirrors and a braided wreath-like chandelier are inspired by the feathery texture of wheat, a recurrent theme in Mademoiselle Chanel’s apartment.
Jewellery pieces, particularly those from Goossens’ SS21 series and classic Talisman collection, are fabulously ornate, weighty and tactile - plus, they are surprisingly affordable with many earrings and bracelets hovering around the £250 mark. Some are set with giant rock crystal cabochons (hand-dyed in tones of peach, lime and grenadine), while others are embellished with chunky charms such as four leaf clovers and scarab beetle medallions. Classicists may prefer the iconic Boucle range, notes for its smooth, sleek lines and ball-style clasp. There’s something for everyone, and what’s more, these high-impact treasure won’t cost you the earth.