Thursday, February 28, 2013




His latest creation is regarded as the most technically advanced creation in artisanal jewellery.

And so it is, just look and gasp and drool over this mother of all gloves. King Arthur's knights of the Round Table never had it so good!

As this is a special collaboration and a one-off piece, there is currently no price tag but of course you can always commission Shaun Leane to do a replica for you which will fit your fingers like, er, a glove!

Its name Contra Mundum means 'Against the World' which seems rather strange as surely the world is not against this bejewelled bling. I would have thought a mask, rather than a glove, would be more suited to a name like 'Against the World' but then I am not loaded like Daphne Guinness who buys haute couture the way you buy Zara and H & M.

Contra Mundum

Daphne Guinness and Shaun Leane celebrate the completion of Contra Mundum or ‘Against the world’: a one-of-a-kind diamond glove.  This handcrafted, intricately made objet d’art took five years to create and develop and is perhaps one of the most technically advanced pieces in the world of artisan jewels.

The collaboration between award-winning jewellery house Shaun Leane and creative ambassador Daphne Guinness initiated five years ago in conversation at Leane’s London studio. As a child, Daphne’s fascination with armour began through her reading of Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur – a compilation of the legendary tales of the Knights of the Round Table.  Captivated by the book’s pictures of renaissance knights, and inspired by her many visits to the Metropolitan and Wallace Museums, the stunning imagery of protective battle garments became the starting point for this exceptional partnership. When considering her choice of words in naming the glove, Daphne settled on Contra Mundum because: “Armour is like a mask; a protective layer that keeps you hidden from the world. There is something isolating, yet strangely reassuring when you put it on.”

In 18ct white gold, Contra Mundum combines an armour-like structure with the aesthetics of an evening glove, echoing the essence of ladies gloves made in either lace or silk.  An ambitious concept to convey, the piece weighs over a thousand grams in gold and is set with over 5,000 pavé white diamonds.  Every detail in the piece, including the chainmail, has been carefully constructed by hand to ensure a perfect fit to Daphne’s arm. A cast of her arm was taken and the rubber mould was then used in the following years as reference in between her fittings with Leane.

Delicate chainmail forms the foundation of this highly fantastical gauntlet; each ring looped in one by one to create an exact formation tailored to the individual.  Striking diamond birds cascade around the arm, as though caught in mid-flight.  Skilfully supporting the framework is a shimmering diamond branch that elegantly wraps around the upper arm.  The hand is protected with a bold metal cuff, hand-forged and beautifully engraved.  Birds are layered on the surface of the cuff amongst the sculpted branches.  Carved in gold and set with diamonds, they soar among the delicate engraving as though liberated by the blowing wind.  Made in two parts, the cuff can be worn alone as a hand glove, or extended into an evening glove.
Coming from a goldsmith background, Leane’s passion for artistry is apparent.  He described this collaboration as “a labour of love” that has given him the opportunity to “explore the historic craftsmanship and design of protective garments,” and enabled him to “bring decorative armour to the 21st century”.  Asked what it was like to work with Daphne, the designer said: “her creativity and vision has given us the perfect platform to express our direction as a fine jewellery house”. 

With this project, the house of Shaun Leane – renowned for boundary-breaking design, has greatly demonstrated their spirit in challenging the traditional notions of jewellery. This inspirational journey, Leane explains, “has pushed myself and my team to create the ultimate piece of wearable art.”

About Daphne Guinness

Daphne's life has often been defined by her environment: an unorthodox life. Having been raised in many different places such as Ireland, England, Paris and Cadaques, a town on the Spanish coast which was home to artists such as Dali, Duchamp and Man Ray. Growing up, Daphne studied life drawing, drama and music and has since worked with photographers such as David La Chapelle and Steven Klein. In 2004, Daphne produced an Oscar nominated short film called 'Cashback', directed by Sean Ellis, and then in 2008 Daphne directed her own short film 'Phenomenology of Body', followed by another short 'Mnemosyne' in 2009.

Daphne has always had a fascination with armour and in 2006 approached her great friend Shaun Leane to create a gold and diamond arm glove.

About Shaun Leane

Four times winner of UK Jewellery Designer of the Year, Shaun Leane is internationally celebrated for pushing the boundaries of jewellery design.  

Trained as an apprentice in Hatton Garden, London’s jewellery quarter, Shaun is a member of the Institute of Professional Goldsmiths and has spent thirteen years in a traditional English workshop focusing on diamond mounting and antique restoration before entering the world of fashion. 

With a signature style that is strong, refined and elegant, Shaun’s darkly romantic and beautifully crafted pieces has been described by Sotheby’s, London’s prestigious auction house, as ‘antiques of the future’.

Alongside his collections and bespoke pieces he produces for clients, Shaun is also responsible for creating some of the most iconic catwalk pieces we have seen today.  Past catwalk collaborations have included acclaimed projects with the late Alexander McQueen and Givenchy. His work with fashion designer Alexander McQueen spanned over fifteen years and has brought him international recognition.

One last look!