The successful sale of Shaun Leane’s personal archive of iconic couture fashion jewellery took place at Sotheby’s, New York on 4 December. More than 40 pieces, many of which appeared in Alexander McQueen’s runway collections from the mid90s to 2008, raised a total of $2.6m (£1.94m), surpassing the sale’s original estimate of $2m (£1.49m).
The last time these key pieces were last seen in public was in the Savage Beauty Alexander McQueen retrospectives at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 2011 and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in 2012.
Spanning more than two decades of Leane’s work, the sale featured bespoke pieces for Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Daphne Guinness, Kate Moss, Isabella Blow, and Sarah Jessica Parker.
More than doubling their estimates, Coiled Corset, sold for $807,000 (£601,134) and Skeleton Corset achieved $711,000 (£529,754). Other lots that did particularly well include a silver crown of thorns from the Dante collection, and Coiled Collar which featured on the cover of Björk’s Homogenic album.
The final lot in the sale, the exquisite Contra Mundum’ (Against the World) evening glove was created for Daphne Guinness, with her collaboration in 2010. Made of white gold and studded with diamond-inset birds in flight, it took Leane and three colleagues four years to complete and included twenty separate fittings. It was intended in part as a tribute to both Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow who had tragically died in 2007 and 2010. The piece fetched $312,500 (£232,826).
Shaun Leane, Creative Director of the House of Shaun Leane commented: “The most beautiful part of this process for me is that these pieces have been admired, appreciated, and now accepted into new collections. I’m so happy to know that they will go on to inspire and provoke as they did the first day I created them.”
Kerry Taylor, head of sale in collaboration with Sotheby’s, said: “The prices achieved reflect the brilliance of Shaun Leane in combination with the great Alexander McQueen, working together throughout the 1990s and 2000s when London was at its creative height. These impressive, unique showpieces are truly iconic, and deserved to reach these record results. They will join both private and institutional collections who will appreciate, preserve and display them for generations to come. Bidders competed tonight to own an important part of 20th and 21st century fashion history, with top prices achieved for runway pieces made from base metals – proving that the value in those works was for their superb design, rather than for fine materials.”
Photo: Orchid Shoulder Piece from Sothebys.