Reflecting on the 'Savage Beauty' exhibition at London’s V&A, the London jeweller and long-term Alexander McQueen collaborator tells us about his thinking behind the updated 'Quill' collection and a possible new fashion collaboration...
Wallpaper*: How do you feel, as a jeweller, about the part you have played in the success of 'Savage Beauty'?
Shaun Leane: There’s a sadness that the exhibition has ended, as it's such a large part of my history, but what remains is an overwhelming gratitude and pride. 'Savage Beauty' allowed me to revisit my work with Lee [Alexander McQueen] and remember the wonderful journey we travelled on together. Each piece I created was a landmark in my career and our friendship.
Tell us about how McQueen’s 'Overlook' A/W 1999–2000 collection inspired your 'Quill' series, which you designed especially for the exhibition.
The 'Quill' collection came about after I selected pieces from my archive for 'Savage Beauty'. Just doing that inspired us – my studio and me – to make a collection in honour of the works we created with Lee. I kept coming back to the coiled corset from the 'Overlook' because I liked the structure of the repetition of fine lines which created an overwhelming, almost armour-like, piece of body adornment; as though the delicate detailing was creating an overall strength.
The new additions to 'Quill' have a more sultry, night-time feel…
'Savage Beauty' rejuvenated a great feeling in us to revisit those early days and, for autumn, add an evening sophistication to this collection. The warm colour of rose gold, which has been pavé set with black spinel, adds glamour.
When you worked with McQueen, the materials that you used as a jeweller were cleverly intertwined with his overall design vision.
Working with Lee gave me a platform where I could think about other materials such as feathers, pheasant claws, porcupine quills and bone. Lee took me out of my comfort zone of working with just gold and precious stones and made me believe if you have a skill to craft you can apply it to any medium and you can create the beautiful.
Any other fashion collaborations we should know about?
Actually, we are in talks with a designer, but it would not be in the same way as I worked with McQueen. We have evolved as a house and our approach to our collaborations is to create a unique experience with each partner, so it would be very interesting to see the body of works we might create today.