As the best collaboration tales go, Chanel and jewellery house Goossens’ long-standing relationship can be traced back to a single moment. Exposed to metalwork from a young age at his father’s foundry in the Marais, Paris, founder Robert Goossens met Coco Chanel in 1953 when she had placed a personal order with him, three years after he’d started his eponymous company. The iconoclastic designer adored his work — both jewellery and decorative objects with marked influence from Ancient Egypt, Antiquities and Byzantium — such that the two houses haven’t stopped working with each other since.
Although Chanel was not Goossens’ only patron — there was Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent and Schiaparelli that commissioned his striking, baroque pieces too — it is said that it was Chanel’s support that casted Goossens in the role of jeweller to the fashion designers in the mid-20th century. In 2005, the jewellery house — now spearheaded by Robert’s son, Patrick — was inducted into Chanel’s Paraffection, the latter’s way of keeping the stable of storied ateliers responsible for the hand-crafted embroideries, footwear, hats and of course, jewellery in their collections, alive.
For Chanel’s most recent Metier d’Art show, the maison had hightailed to New York, the city where its madame first found success across the Atlantic — only to stage the show at the Temple of Dendur exhibit at The Met. The Egyptian showground not just flanked the procession of models, but its influences were woven into the looks head-to-toe, from garments to shoes and bags. And sitting on the wrists, dangling from the earlobes, and encircling the models’ necks were Goossens jewellery — prominently the recurring motif of a scarab made from a mould created by Robert himself, who so loved his Egyptian influences — in their element and ornate glory. Symbolic of a partnership not bound by lifetimes, and forever entwined with the house of Chanel.
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