“Is it art? Is it fashion? Is it jewelry?” These are the questions British jeweler Shaun Leane asked himself when he was making the sculptural showpieces for Alexander McQueen’s boundary-pushing runway shows. And over 40 original pieces from Leane’s personal collection are about to be auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York as part of their inaugural ‘A Life of Luxury’ series.
Shaun Leane’s working relationship with Alexander McQueen spanned 17 years, before being cut tragically short by the designer’s suicide in 2010. Among the pieces slated for next month’s auction are the coiled corset from McQueen’s ‘The Overlook’ collection from AW 1999, the skeleton corset from the ‘Untitled’ SS 1998 collection, and the silver crown of thorns headpiece from the AW 1996 'Dante' collection.
Also included in the auction are a silver thistle brooch worn by Sarah Jessica Parker to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala in 2006, a tusk anklet designed for Isabella Blow in 1987 and the 'Contra Mundum', a white-gold glove from Daphne Guinness’s personal collection that features over 4,000 diamonds.
When asked if he will he miss anything in particular, the designer had no hesitation in answering, “ the coiled corset”, which, he said, ”really stands on its own as a sculpture and was the only piece that was signed by me and Lee.” Inspired by the film 'The Shining', the corset comprises 97 aluminium coils that were fitted exactly to Laura Morgan's dimensions, the model who wore the piece on the runway. “What I love about this piece is its play on surfaces, “ said the jewelry designer. “It has the appearance of armour but a silhouette that shows the beauty, softness and curves of the female form. It is this delicate balance that defines that era of work between myself and McQueen."
As a supporter of luxury fashion and craftsmanship, it is perhaps no surprise that Carmen has supported both Shaun Leane and Alexander McQueen in their creative endeavours. And pieces by both designers were stocked by CoutureLab, her boutique and e-commerce platform that gave loyal customers access to the work of such talents.
Interest in the one-of-a-kind auction items is expected from fashion lovers, jewelry collectors and art enthusiasts, as well as museums. Indeed, Andrew Bolton, head curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, has already expressed an interest in several of the pieces to display as part of the museum’s 2018 ‘Fashion and Religion’ exhibition.
‘Couture Fashion Jewellery: The Personal Archive of Shaun Leane’ will be open for viewing from tomorrow, with the auction taking place on Monday, 4th December.