If you’re not familiar with jewellery brand LeiVanKash, prepare to be bowled over. This young brand, established in 2011 by Leila Kashanipour, will have you emptying your purse and snapping up every neon roped skull, chunky gold cuff and dagger pendant you can get your hands on. The London-based label is edgy yet romantic and has already caught the magpie eyes of Olivia Palermo, Amber Le Bon, Chloe Green and Florence Welch. Leila chats with us about her line, her inspirations and her exciting new projects!
Soraya Bakhtiar: Can you tell us a bit more about your story and how you became a designer?
Leila Kashanipour: Funnily enough I wanted to study chemistry and fine art. I love to paint and I was really interested in art restoration. Initially my goal was to apply for American universities, major in Art and do a minor in Chemistry but then things changed as they do… So I applied for a foundation course at Central St Martins as my art background in fine arts was pretty strong. During my foundation year though, I realised my real passion during a jewellery making course and the rest is history.
S.B: How does your culture influence your work?
LK: Quite a lot actually. I try to stay truthful to my identity, style, personality and ultimately my origin. I grew up in Iran and although I left there about 9 years ago to pursue my education, I am in many ways very much Iranian and naturally use what I have seen, learnt and felt in my pieces.
S.B: How do you begin to create a collection?
LK: After research into what I have in mind and a bit of design development, I start making prototypes and models mostly with wax. All my pieces are first carved into wax or modeled by me and then if approved and I feel happy with them, they go into production; making a mould, casting, polishing, setting, plating etc… it’s a long process!
S.B: How would you describe your style?
LK: Oh Lord, here comes the tricky question… I like mixing things up, high street with designer. I guess my style varies on my mood and the seasons. Some days I’m more boho, while others I feel more punk chic, and sometimes quite minimalist. The only thing that doesn’t vary is my jewellery. Considering that I have 5 different collections, I always find the right piece to wear to compliment my outfit.
S.B: What inspires you the most?
LK: Nature, feathers, animals, magic, people, fashion. My Flora collection was inspired by roses, as I love their mysterious, dark yet romantic feel. During my foundation year we had a project based on Memento Mori art and I also loved vanitas paintings so I combined them together and Skullmania was born. My daggers were inspired by the ‘fabled sword of Damocles’. They have this edgy feel with a girly twist. Persepolis is very much about my background and culture. I’m Persian and was bought up in Iran so it’s really about the architecture, heritage, history, and Old Persian dynasties.
S.B: What’s the one piece of jewellery that you never take off?
LK: My LeiVanKash skull bracelet, dagger bracelet in yellow, the rose bracelet with the fuchsia cord and one of my evil eye bracelets are permanent residents on my right wrist. And of course my wedding band.
S.B: When you’re not designing, what do you enjoy doing?
LK: Catching up with friends over lunch or coffee and a little bit of retail therapy, London’s great for that!
S.B: Who are some of your favourite jewelry designers?
LK: I have great admiration for Sevan Bicakci’s jewelry! His intricate work is absolutely magical.
For more information, visit : www.leivankash.com
Text by Soraya Bakhtiar for Because Magazine