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Jewellery Designer Shaun Leane On Alexander McQueen & Mayfair Haunts

The jewellery designer reflects on starting out in Hatton Garden and his friendship with Alexander McQueen 

In search of something creative, when I was 15 I left my highly academic school to do a foundation course in jewellery design and manufacture.

Hatton Garden was such a hub of energy when I started my apprenticeship there. I was just turning 16, and worked for stores such as Garrard, Asprey and Mappin & Webb.

My favourite thing to design is earrings. Not to accessorise, but to frame the face. Ultimately, jewellery should complement you, not own you.

I worked with Alexander McQueen for nearly 20 years. We met when we were 22 and were the best of friends until the day he died. He approached me in 1994 to work on his show. By day I would be making tiaras, by night I’d be making skeleton corsets in aluminium or silver.

I have two loves in menswear. McQueen, especially their casual leather jackets and boots, and Thom Browne suits because they fit me perfectly.

I’ve been looking for a rucksack forever. They normally don’t look good on me. In a moment of serendipity I went to Smythson to buy a wallet and there were some beautiful navy blue deerskin rucksacks. I can fit everything in it and I don’t look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

If my house caught fire, the first thing I would grab is my cat, Jasmine, who is 11. She’s a delicate little Burmese and can’t run fast.

I couldn’t live without my headphones and my music. They help me through the day. I love all sorts, except German techno. At the moment I’m into Aretha Franklin.

Good chocolate is my guilty pleasure. I have to walk past Charbonnel et Walker quickly, otherwise I spend an absolute fortune. They do amazing salted caramel truffles.

My favourite restaurant in Mayfair is The Beaumont’s Colony Grill Room. I go there all the time for the Cajun swordfish or New York shrimp cocktail. The ice cream sundaes are especially fun for business meetings – you can see everybody turning into children again.