Shaun Leane celebrates 21 years of avant-garde jewellery design

A new book goes behind the scenes of a rich and varied jewellery career

A painting of a female with large circular loop ear rings.
African hoop earrings
(Image credit: Rob Rusling)

Personal landmarks have propelled jeweller Shaun Leane into a reflective mood, as he marks twenty-one years of the House of Shaun Leane, his fiftieth birthday and the tenth anniversary of losing his collaborator and close friend Alexander McQueen. ‘These pivotal moments made me want to reflect back on the beauty of the different facets of my career that shaped and helped me evolve to be the designer, craftsmen and House we are today,’ he says.

These moments are the focus of a new book, released this month, which contains a wealth of previously unseen archive imagery offering us a peek behind the curtain. Ann Ray’s captures of the remarkable coil corset being fitted is just one backstage moment he reveals: created for Alexander McQueen in 1999 and formed from hand-forged aluminium rods, Leane was obliged to tighten the miniscule screws and seal model Laura Morgan into her heavy metal exoskeleton, sculpted just for her.

A female wearing a metallic torso top being dressed by two dressers.

(Image credit: press)

‘Throughout my career I have worked on collaborations, from the early 1990s with fashion designers such as McQueen, to photographers such as Nick Knight,’ Leane says. ‘Working with visionaries such as these, who really think outside of the box and push their industries without boundaries, inspired me to inject that same ethos into the world of jewellery. They gave me inspiration to provoke and inspire with the creations I make.' 

Often, their careers ran parallel to his own – introduced to Rob Rusling early on, Rusling’s images became closely aligned with the concept of the romantic warrior, encapsulating the philosophy at the core of Shaun Leane’s jewels. ‘I always strive to evolve and look with a different perspective,’ Leane says. ‘I see collaboration as a beautiful evolving process; a large part of my career has been through collaborations. I like to work with new emerging talent and passing on ethos and energy that ‘nothing is impossible’ as it was taught to me by Lee Alexander McQueen.’

Side by side images of models wearing jewellery - Left, porcupine quill ear cuffs and right, jawbone; 

Left, porcupine quill ear cuffs and right, jawbone; 

(Image credit: Rob Rusling)

A black and white photo of Shaun Leane being dressed.

Shaun Leane

(Image credit: Ann Ray)


‘Shaun Leane' is published by ACC Art Books.

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.