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Remaking of the Yashmak

This film follows the remaking of the Yashmak for display in the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A. The Yashmak is an extraordinary piece from the Alexander McQueen Eye, Spring/Summer 2000 collection and the film includes an interview with the maker, jeweller Shaun Leane.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
In partnership with Swarovski
14 March – 2 August 2015

Alexander McQueen was one of the most innovative designers of his generation and celebrated for his extraordinary creative talent. This spectacular exhibition is the only major retrospective of McQueen’s work to be presented in Europe and showcases the best of his creative output of womenswear from his 1992 Central Saint Martin’s postgraduate collection to his A/W 2010 collection which was unfinished at the time of his death.
vam.ac.uk/savagebeauty

Supported by American Express
With thanks to M.A.C Cosmetics
Technology partner Samsung

Transcript:
I think one of the nice things about how me and Lee worked was, that was the meeting, that was the brief: ‘Design me a piece, in this style, that covers the torso, the arms and the head’. And I literally went off and did that, and Lee didn’t see the piece literally ‘til three days before the show.

Lee took me out of the zone of making jewellery that has to be earrings or necklaces or bracelets or tiaras, to actually creating pieces from a metal form that became part of the garment. Or became the garments themselves. So I think it was quite challenging because in a way, I was creating, I was pattern cutting in metal. Which is something I had never ever done before.

It was always a new challenge, and I think with the short deadlines and the time, it was always quite daunting. Whatever decision you made, whether it be design or ordering components or metals or materials, you had to get that right. Because you didn’t have time to re-order.

Once we were asked to recreate the piece, my first reaction was of panic, cause I was like, ‘where are the moulds, where are the original masters, where are the original moulds for these pieces’. And we’ve moved several times since then. So there was an element of panic if we had the originals, and we couldn’t find them. Then luckily we did find them. We found them. Yeah we did find the pieces.

We had the original moulds. I still had some of the original beadings that I created. We had the original stones. So the Swarovski cabochon crystals that I used in the yashmak, I still had the same parcels that I was given all those years ago. So I had the same stones, I had the same masters, I had all the original beadings. Well not all the originals, but samples of the ones I’d made so I could replicate those really easy.

The only thing I didn’t have was the nose and the eyebrow. Because there was no original mould for that because that was originally cut off by Annika in wax and cast straight to aluminium. So that was a one-off, as to so. So luckily I was still in contact with Annika, so Annika recreated the nose and the eyebrow piece for us.

The original company that I used 15 years ago to cast those segments was still in business. So I approached them again with the original masters and we cast all the pieces again.

Thank God for photography, because we have great images of the piece in many different angles. When I created the piece back in the late 90s, I had to work out every single piece bit by bit.

To look at the piece and recreate it and see it coming, forming back to how it was is very exciting, very rewarding. And it kind of memorably… the memories of it make very… make me reflect on how honoured and lucky I was to work with Lee over those years. It was a very innovative time.

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