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‘Wearable art’ goes on show in London

A London gallery hosts an exhibition of stunning jewellery

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‘Wearable art’ goes on show in London

November 30 2011
Vicki Reeve

If I were Daphne Guinness, I’d keep an iron grip on Contra Mundum – or perhaps that should be a gold-and-diamond grip? This famous “glove” (first picture) – an 18ct white-gold work of art co-designed by Guinness and How To Spend It regular Shaun Leane – is set with more than 5,000 pavé diamonds and is simply stunning. Somehow managing to combine fragility (it’s like a full-length lace glove with diamond birds flying over it) and strength (it’s also like fine chain mail with more solid protective armour), the gauntlet has special meaning for Guinness, which its name (translating as “against the world”) implies. For despite appearances, Guinness has been quoted as saying that being social “terrifies” her, and the story goes that she, Leane and Alexander McQueen were huddled together at a big bash when she suggested that it would be great to have some armour. And so it came to pass that, over the course of five years, Leane created the bespoke glove.

And now it’s for sale (£1.2m, since you ask). The good thing about this for those of us who can’t even dream of buying it is that it’s on display (for the first time) at Art Rocks: Contemporary Jewellery, an exhibition of “wearable art” curated by jewellery expert Joanna Hardy (formerly of Sotheby’s) at the Khalili brothers’ gallery Shizaru in London’s Mayfair. And it’s in great company. Other utterly exquisite pieces in the exhibition include: Sevan Bicakci’s intricate sculptural statement rings (second picture, £18,000-£245,000); Sophia Mann’s sensual Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend ring (£4,000); and Leo de Vroomen’s repoussé 18ct gold bangle (third picture) with fantastically rare 144.88ct paraiba tourmaline cabochon set in platinum, £249,180. There’s certainly no shame in following the flock to this event.