London jeweller Shaun Leane, best known for his style of modern romance with a powerful tribal edge, was a long-time collaborator of the late Alexander McQueen, creating provocative fantasy catwalk jewels and ornaments of drama that challenged every jewellery convention in the book: shape, form, size and volume, role and message, and relationship to the body. The most memorable of some 30 being shown as part of the Savage Beauty exhibition currently at the V&A include a coiled silver-metal corset, a body halo, moon and stars headpieces evoking pagan rituals, a winged head ornament made with Philip Treacy, and a nest containing precious gem-set eagle eggs. To celebrate the exhibition (running until Sunday August 2) and to honour the memory of his inspirational friend and collaborator, Leane has created a limited-edition collection, available at the museum, Harrods and Selfridges only for the duration of the show.
The collection is called Reflective, as a reflection of Leane’s relationship with McQueen and their creative partnership, and comprises five designs, each inspired by one of McQueen’s seminal catwalk creations and intended to capture their theatrical spirit. The autumn/winter 2007 show, entitled In Memory of Elizabeth Howe, Salem, 1692, which captured a sense of witchcraft and the ethereal, has given rise to a one-of-a-kind diamond star pendant (£29,500) on a diamond-scattered gold chain, and a crescent moon pendant (£17,500, second picture), pavé set with sapphires.
The streamlined and dynamically modern Porcupine Quill earring (£300) in silver with black rhodium stripes was inspired by the spring/summer 2003 show, Irere, and the single tusk earring, now a Shaun Leane signature, is adapted from The Hunger collection, of spring/summer 1996, celebrating the first piece made by Leane for McQueen. The long, scimitar-shaped earring is made in white gold and aluminium, either plain (£1,500) or studded at the top (£2,300-£2,850) with a different coloured pear-shaped gemstone – rhodolite, peridot (third picture), aquamarine or tourmaline.
From the macabre Widows of Culloden show, autumn/winter 2006, comes a pair of eagle talon earrings (£1,900-£2,300, first picture) taken from the dramatic winged nest headpiece – McQueen was obsessed with eagles – and consisting of a finely engraved and textured scaly claw in silver or vermeil clutching a ball in a contrasting colour.
Fashion and fantasy, Shaun Leane at his best.