Monsieur Bijou was the moniker given to Robert Goossens, a French jeweller who lived from 1927 to 2016. He was born in Paris, France, the son of a metal foundry worker. During his jewellery-making apprenticeship, he learned the techniques of casting, engraving, and embossing semi-precious and simulated stones into gold and silver metals. Goossens combined genuine stones with fakes, artificial gems with semi-precious for clients such as Coco Chanel, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Madame Grès, Christian Dior, and others during his decades of making fine jewellery.
Goossens’ designs were highly inspired by paintings and objects in Paris museums, with Maltese, Byzantium, and Renaissance works providing the most inspiration. He travelled widely, often returning with stones such as sapphires, amethysts, rubies, coral, and chalcedony. After restoring a cross that belonged to Madame Chanel, he made rock crystal his favourite material. It’s a colourless and transparent quartz variety. Goossens was the first to incorporate it into jewellery, believing that its delicate and affordable qualities were ideal for costume jewellery. Bronze, shells, pearls, polished and natural rock crystal, and other materials were used in his necklace, brooch, bracelet, and earring designs.
Work with Maison Chanel
Goossens started working with Coco Chanel to design jewellery to complement her fashion designs in 1954 when he developed the Byzantine style. He did so mainly through presentations where she influenced his inspiration. Chanel was known for fusing the wealthy and the poor, and Goossens’ designs were no exception. He produced emerald-set silver and gold plated rings, moon earth pendants, and crystal Byzantine crosses at Chanel.
Robert Goosens – Works
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Goossens would make one-of-a-kind pieces for Chanel, made of real gold and genuine stones, then replicated as knockoffs for fashion shows and presentations. Chanel’s costume jewellery designs were finally based on these models.
After Chanel’s founder’s death, Goossens continued to work with the house, collaborating with her successor Karl Lagerfeld on costume jewellery for the house’s ready-to-wear and couture collections in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2005, Chanel purchased Goossens’ workshop.
Goossen’s studio, located north of Paris, employs approximately 50 people who handcraft his designs.
The Goossens boutique is located on George V Avenue in Paris.
Any of his works can be found in the collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
Wikipedia contributors. (2021, February 19). Robert Goossens. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:55, March 30, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Robert_Goossens&oldid=1007718758
- “Chanel: The Vocabulary of Style” by Jérôme Gautier: This book looks at Chanel’s enduring style, including the jewelry that played a big part in defining the brand’s aesthetic. Robert Goossens, as the creator of many of Chanel’s iconic pieces, is mentioned.
- “Chanel: Her Life” by Justine Picardie: This biography of Coco Chanel also touches on the individuals who contributed to her brand’s success, including Goossens.
- “Jewelry by Chanel” by Patrick Mauries: This book traces the history of Chanel’s jewelry designs, and as Goossens was a key part of this, you can expect to find some information on him in this book.
- “The World According to Karl: The Wit and Wisdom of Karl Lagerfeld” by Jean-Christophe Napias: Lagerfeld, Chanel’s creative director for many years, worked closely with Goossens and his jewelry designs. He might mention him in this compilation of quotes and insights.
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