Shaun Leane Reimagines His Alexander McQueen Runway Creations into Daring New Jewels
In this #RocksMyWorld feature, InStyle’s jewelry and watch editor Marion Fasel shares the inside scoop on the treasures that are on her radar. Follow Fasel on Instagram (@marionfasel) to see more gems that rock her world.
When Alexander McQueen met Shaun Leane in London during the late 1990s the fashion designer became immediately fascinated by techniques the master jeweler used to create pieces in precious gems and metals. A fast friendship formed based on an appreciation for art and craft and mutual interests in history and aesthetics. By the time McQueen was preparing to present his fourth collection he persuaded Leane to make statement accessories for the show.
“At first I found it difficult to think how I could make large pieces in the materials I was using but Lee [McQueen’s given first name] said ‘Shaun you are such a skilled craftsman if you apply your skills to other materials, you can create anything,’” remembers Leane. “He helped me change my thought process.” For over 17 years Leane worked on around 30 shows with Alexander McQueen. Many of his dramatic designs are featured in “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,” the new exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
In celebration of the retrospective Leane created a capsule collection, the Limited Edition Reflective Series. It will be available for the duration of the exhibition from March 14 to Aug. 2 at the V & A Shop, Harrods, and London's Selfridges. The jewelry designer sat down with InStyle to tell us all about it.
What ignited the idea for this new collection?When I had the pieces the Victoria & Albert had selected brought from my archive to my atelier to be reconditioned for the display, it became very emotional and yet energizing. All of them were landmarks in my friendship and working relationship with Lee. My team and I reminisced over each piece, show, and the memories attached to them. This speared on the idea of the Reflective series. We wanted to recreate a collection with the energy and style of the original McQueen-Leane creations as well as the House of Shaun Leane’s spirit today.
The Coiled Corset for the La Dame Blue Spring 2008 collection (pictured above, left) is extraordinary and translates beautifully into the Quill cuff (above, right).The Quills really show the edge and sense of line Lee and I liked to explore.
Tell me about the star pendant inspired by your headpiece for the In Memory of Elizabeth Howe, Salem 1692 fall 2007 collection.The star headpiece shows the direction Lee and I were moving in—bringing fine jewelry styles to the catwalk in an avant-garde manner. The McQueen headpiece was purposely crafted to reveal the antique Victorian jewelry influence. It was the perfect example for me to recreate in fine jewelry since the original inspiration for the headpieces was a Victorian star brooch.
And then there are those amazing Eagle Claw Ball Gold and Silver Earrings inspired by the dramatic feather headpiece you did for The Widows of Culloden Fall 2006 collection.I wanted to re-visit the subject of birds and falconry because it inspired us both in many ways. The eagle headdress was a balance of macabre and beauty. I wanted to recreate that in these earrings