A First Look at Couture Fashion Jewellery – The Personal Archive of Shaun Leane

Launch Slideshow

This December, Sotheby’s inaugural A Life of Luxury auction series will be highlighted by Couture Fashion Jewellery – The Personal Archive of Shaun Leane, a sale featuring more than 45 pieces worn by such fashion icons as the Honourable Daphne Guinness, Isabella Blow, Kate Moss and Sarah Jessica Parker. Over the last two decades, the London-based designer has created hauntingly beautiful designs which have debuted on the runways of Alexander McQueen and Givenchy and featured in blockbuster exhibitions. The sale, which is in partnership with Kerry Taylor Auctions, opens for public view on 30 November at Sotheby’s New York. Click ahead for a first look at eight highly original and covetable treasures.

Couture Fashion Jewellery – The Personal Archive of Shaun Leane
4 December | New York 

Image: Courtesy of Chris Moore

A First Look at Couture Fashion Jewellery – The Personal Archive of Shaun Leane

  • Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen ‘Skeleton’ Corset ‘Untitled’ collection, Spring-Summer, 1998. Estimate $250,000–350,000.
    Featured in the March 2015 issue of British Vogue, this remarkable corset was created with a distinct vision. Inspired by the idea of taking (what was to McQueen) the beauty of the human body’s internal structure and turning it into an external adornment, Leane used wax and aluminium to sculpt the corset, with the addition of a primeval tail.  

  • Shaun Leane, ‘Thistle’ brooch Worn by Sarah Jessica Parker, 2006. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
    Worn by Sarah Jessica Parker to the 2006 MET Gala, this brooch, formed of spiked leaves pavéd with black spinel and talon-like claws enclosing four Grade AAA Tahitian pearls, is one of a pair that was specially commissioned by Alexander McQueen to be worn at the Anglomania exhibition opening.

  • Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen ‘Coiled Corset’ ‘The Overlook’ collection, Autumn-Winter, 1999-2000. Estimate $250,000–350,000.
    Exhibited at The Met’s Costume Institute in 2006 and 2011 and the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2015, the Coiled Corset is one of the most powerful examples of the designers’ creative collaboration. Comprised of 97 aluminium coils, it is the only piece in existence that is signed and dated by both Leane and McQueen. This corset debuted in McQueen’s Autumn/Winter runway show in 1999, which was inspired by the cult film, The Shining.   

  • Shaun Leane silver ‘Tusk’ anklet Designed for Isabella Blow in 1997. Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    Fascinated by Leane’s goldsmithing heritage, Isabella Blow encouraged the designer to fuse the worlds of metalworking and fashion. She requested a custom anklet reflecting his aesthetic. This anklet − an identical replica of the piece Leane created for Blow – features an oval band with meticulously placed graduated tusks and was exhibited at London’s Somerset House in 2014.  

  • Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen silver crown of thorns headpiece ‘Dante’ collection, Autumn-Winter, 1996-97. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
    The crown of thorns circlet reflects the gripping religious symbolism depicted in many of Leane’s pieces for McQueen. Along with the following arm-vine and earring, the crown embodies the surrealist and often discordant ideas that form a distinct harmony in Leane’s designs for the iconic brand.  

  • Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen silver thorn arm-vine and earring ‘Dante’ collection, Autumn-Winter, 1996-97. Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    The arm-vine is inspired by McQueen’s vision of a rose briar enveloping the body. Leane imagined the concept as representative of nature reclaiming the corpus after death, and he fashioned the coiling branches to ascend from the hand, interlacing the arm and shoulder, with a separate thorn earpiece imparting the illusion of the briar growing through the head.  

  • Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen porcupine quill earrings, ‘Irere’ collection, Spring-Summer, 2003. Estimate $25,000–35,000.
    Purchased during a 1995 trip to South Africa, Leane acquired the porcupine quills used in these earrings for his personal cabinet of curiosities, knowing he would one day find a special use for them. Nearly a decade later, Leane combined their elegance and delicacy with silver to form the striking earrings, which debuted on McQueen’s Spring/Summer runway in 2003.   

  • Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen large shell earrings, ‘VOSS’ collection, Spring-Summer 2001. Estimate $4,000–6,000.
    From McQueen’s Spring/Summer 2001 ‘Voss’ collection, the earrings, created from the discarded shells of Black-Lipped oysters, were worn by Kate Moss on the runway. Tahitian pearls that were enclosed in the oysters were used to create multiple pieces featured in the show, while polished fragments of the shells adorned spectacular garments throughout the collection.  


We use our own and third party cookies to enable you to navigate around our Site, use its features and engage on social media, and to allow us to perform analytics, remember your preferences, provide services that you have requested and produce content and advertisements tailored to your interests, both on our Site as well as others. For more information, or to learn how to change your cookie or marketing preferences, please see our updated Privacy Policy & Cookie Policy.

By continuing to use our Site, you consent to our use of cookies and to the practices described in our updated Privacy Policy.