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Sarabande, Ketel One, Shaun Leane and the Legacy of Lee Alexander McQueen: The Silver Pearl

SEEN wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from an evening with Shaun Leane. Beautifully crafted and unusual jewellery from his own line and in collaboration with the late, great Lee Alexander McQueen for sure, but what she had not anticipated was Shaun’s wry, funny and moving account of his longstanding association with the enfant terrible of British fashion.

They were friends for a long time it seemed, before McQueen became fully aware of Shaun’s training and expertise in the creation of fine precious jewellery. Shaun’s seven-year apprenticeship and subsequent five-year employment creating exquisite pieces for the likes of Asprey’s and Garrards meant that he could bring a fine craftsmanship to the extraordinary pieces he went on to create for McQueen’s catwalk shows, whilst pushing the boundaries of the materials he used.

Drawing inspiration from the natural world and blending his designs with the sheer practicality of how models wore the pieces resulted in many happy years of collaboration, leading Shaun to launch his own line. The standouts for SEEN were the Tahitian pearl and silver wire neckpiece (an inspiration for Ketel One’s cocktail) and a floral piece where the bees vibrated with the wearer’s movement. Shaun was refreshingly open and down-to-earth. His use of other materials such as feathers, bones, and skulls is innovative, and his enthusiasm about the advent of new technology, such as 3-D printing, heralds other exciting developments to come in terms of his own craft.

He is also very encouraging of young up-and-coming talent and is involved in the Sarabande Foundation, where young designers are supported in the early stages of their training by a funding initiative set up by the Lee Alexander McQueen estate and named after his 2007 Spring/Summer collection.. There were many designers and makers in the room who, along with SEEN, felt inspired by the sheer beauty of the three pieces on display; The Tahitian pearl and wire neckpiece and two head-pieces of a half-moon and a star respectively. It was a wonderfully uplifting evening, helped along by delicious cocktails courtesy of the Ketel One bar. Ketel One create their own splendid brand of crisp, sophisticated vodka and prides it self on close liaisons with the bartending community.

To celebrate the legacy of Lee Alexander McQueen and their partnership with the Sarabande Foundation, Ketel One worked with Shaun Leane to create a limited edition cocktail, entitled The Silver Pearl (in honour of that splendid neckpiece) for London Craft Week, but fear not if you didn’t catch it then, the cocktail will also be available at Hotel Café Royal throughout May. Embodying the fearless creativity of McQueen, The Ketel One Silver Pearl brings to life the beauty and craftsmanship so significant to both their talents throughout their 10-year friendship and collaboration.

Should you feel inspired, here is the recipe for the Ketel One Silver Pearl Cocktail:


30ml Ketel One Vodka.
20ml Manuka Honey shiso syrup (1:1 Manuka honey with hot water to dissolve – blended with Shiso leaves. One leaf must be blended, per 500ml of the syrup).
1cm of crushed or muddled lemongrass.
1cm of crushed or muddled ginger.
5ml Lemon Juice.
1 drop of Mandarin oil.
Shake and double strain into the glass, add cubed ice.
Top up with Soda or Sparkling water.
Garnish: One Shiso leaf, one white chocolate feather and one edible pearl.

If there’s a cocktail that evokes McQueen’s exoticism, theatricality and sheer decadence, SEEN hasn’t tasted it yet. Here’s to Lee Alexander McQueen’s legacy, may it continue to inspire designers for generations to come.

Hotel Café Royal
68 Regent Street