SHAUN LEANE has worked in the jewellery industry designing and making for the last 20 years. Shaun Leane Ltd was started in 1999. Since then it has grown into a business which supplies jewellery to over 70 UK and International outlets. Past catwalk collaborations have included acclaimed projects with ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, Givenchy and artist SAM TAYLOR WOOD. His work with fashion designer Alexander McQueen spans over ten years and has brought international recognition.
Interview : Shaun Leane
Sabine Morandini : How would you describe your visual world?
Shaun Leane : I see my world as polar opposites, and I love putting the two together.
SM : How do you balance technique and creativity?
SL : I use my techniques creatively to reflect and complement with my designs.
SM : What things do you like to refer to in your creations?
SL : Organic forms, beautiful and fragile yet there are hidden elements of strength and danger. A rose can be beautiful, yet its thorn makes it dangerous. I also take inspiration from my antique restoration days. I have much respect for the designs of the periods of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Victorian, and Georgian, they are so distinctive. I like to take elements of those styles and bring it forward into today’s design. It was when I was working in restoration and reproduction that my design ability awoke. Art is another aspect of my inspiration. I feel that art, fashion, architecture, and all elements of design feed each other. When you are a designer, it doesn't matter where or what you take your inspiration from as long as it inspires you.
SM : Do you define yourself in another artistic movement?
SL : I like to feel that I have contributed in breaking some of the boundaries in Jewellery design. Working with Alexander McQueen has given me a platform to forget about the traditional process of designing jewellery and to think outside the box. I started pushing the boundaries of jewellery design and came up with pieces that were mind provoking. People have described my catwalk pieces as body sculpture because of the size. The silver armour and corsets I have made for the shows have challenged traditional notions of what Jewellery is and where it can be worn. I then took this approach with my Fine Jewellery fusing traditional craftsmanship with an avant-garde style.
SM : Which are your favourite materials to use?
SL : I love using enamel - it is a traditional way of adding colour onto metal; a technique that was widely used in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco period. You can create the most unusual colours with enamel, the colours can be as vibrant or as delicate and transparent as you like.
SM : Are there any new materials you will work with or would like to experiment with in the future?
SL : Palladium is a new material I have yet to work with. It is a very white metal that is nearly as durable as platinum. With catwalk pieces, I would like to experiment using a raw material such as concrete fusing with precious gems such as Diamonds.
SM : Is there an « ideal » material that does not actually exist and that you dream about?
SL : I have longed to work with blue gold, it does exist but I still have not found anyone who produces it. It is like looking for treasure, if I ever find it, I will make myself a ring with a blue diamond set in it.
SM : What is, from your point of view, jewellery’s function today? Ornamental ? Social ? Useful ? High-tech? Silly? Ludicrous?
SL : I would like to think that jewellery today is moving more towards its sentimental value than a representation of wealth and status. To me, jewellery is something very personal; it should be a reminder of a special time in our lives so that when it is worn, we are re- living that happy emotion.
SM : What is your relation to the earth, the main supplier of prime matter for your works?
SL : It always amazes me the natural resources we have available on this planet. It is intriguing to think how gemstones can obtain such colours naturally from the soil. As these resources are so precious, it is necessary for us to take care of them and not let it drain too fast.
SM : What did you think of the massive arrival and impact of body-piercing?
SL : It amazes me to see how something so tribal has become such a powerful trend in the Western world.
SM :Have you ever designed dental jewellery?
SL : I once designed a silver gum shield for the catwalk.
SM : From your point of view, which part of the body should absolutely be decorated with jewellery?
SL : Hands, as it is often used as an expression of speech so it is a beautiful way to parade your jewels.
SM : Can a jewel be an aphrodisiac?
SL : Yes it can, jewellery helps to accentuate parts of the body.
SM : Does a jewel maker have a heart of stone? (or gold or diamond?) SL : To be a Jewellery designer maker, you have to have that sense of romance and sentiment in you to create pieces that are sentimental to others.
SM : What fascinates you?
SL : The beauty and power of nature.
Nancy, Shaun and Alexander McQueen
Shaun Leane joaillerie créations
Copyright Shaun Leane & Alexander McQueen
Shaun Leane jewellery créations
for Alexander McQueen shows
Shaun Leane - UK Luxury Jewellery of the Year 2006 & UK Jewellery Designer of the Year 2004 & 2005