Vintage costume jewelry: The beauty of faux

Vintage costume jewelry: The beauty of faux

Rather than imitating its valuable “real” siblings, creative faux jewelry has long taken a bold stylistic direction of its own. As Coco Chanel, a designer whose adornment vision included both real and fake pieces, once put it: “Costume jewelry is not made to give women an aura of wealth, but to make them beautiful.”

Vintage costume jewelry pieces by Parisian couture houses will be on display (as well as for sale) at a new venue in central Athens, ApArt, from Friday to Sunday. “Bijoux de Haute Couture” is organized by Anna Kontoleon and curated by Iris Kritikou.

The exhibition, which includes pieces for landmark Paris labels such as Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Lanvin, Scherrer and Spain’s Loewe, is based on the private collection of French gallery owner, luxury costume jewelry and perfume specialist Soraya Bouvier Feder.

For 20 years Bouvier Feder managed her Via Antica gallery on the Rive Gauche, where an eclectic clientele scouted for vintage pieces, while in 2012 she collaborated with Sofia Coppola in the latter’s period comedy-drama “Marie Antoinette.” In 2012, she established an online store where the offerings include vintage Hermes and Isabel Canovas, as well as younger brands such as Les Paruriers.

Behind the pieces going on display at ApArt lies the masterful touch of Robert Goossens, a French jeweler and metal craftsman who specialized in costume jewelry.

Inspired by the Byzantine, Renaissance and other periods, Goossens began collaborating with Coco Chanel in the 1950s, coming up with pieces featuring baroque pearls, corals and turquoise mounted on silver- and gold-plated bronze. Following Mademoiselle’s death in 1971, he continued working for the fashion powerhouse and her successor, Karl Lagerfeld, through the 1980s and 90s. In 1974, Goossens met Yves Saint Laurent and soon found himself creating bijoux couture for the house, where the themes included Africa and crosses.

While the Goossens ateliers worked with high-end fashion companies such as Christian Dior, Balmain, Madame Gres, Rochas, Balenciaga and Schiaparelli, they also produced intricate pieces for the Goossens brand, still sold at the namesake boutique on Avenue Georges V on the Rive Droite.

The Goossens company was bought by Chanel in 2005, as an addition to its art professions division, which also includes the embroidery house of Lesage and feather specialists Lemarie.
Goossens died earlier this year at the age of 88.

Meanwhile, the Athens event has triggered an exchange of talent, with a group of Greek costume jewelry designers set to show their work in Paris, in association with Bouvier Feder, in December.

ApArt, 15-19 Praxitelous, 4th Floor. Doors open from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

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