I was first introduced to Leila Kashanipour’s jewellery through Sophie’s Closet, when Sophie enthusiastically emailed to tell me about what she found to be “the most beautiful ring in the world.” The ring in question was an exquisite antique-inspired rose, with the stem elegantly wrapped underneath and resurfacing as a delicate leaf. With its graceful and ingenious shape, it certainly is a contender for the world’s most beautiful ring — at least among the ones that don’t involve diamonds.
Olivia Rose Ring
The genius behind the ring, Leila Kashanipour (who designs as LeiVanKash), certainly has the pedigree to create such beauty, and with diamonds too if she pleases. She holds a BA in Jewellery Design from Central Saint Martins and a diploma in Diamond Grading from London’s Gemological Institute of America. While still a student, she began her ongoing collaboration with Eskandar, and shortly upon graduating worked for legendary designers Suzanne Syz and Stephen Webster. Leila launched LeiVanKash earlier this year, and has already appeared in the pages of Vogue, Elle, Nylon and Tatler, and on the hands of style darlings like Florence Welch and Olivia Palermo. I caught up with Leila at this exciting moment in her career as she establishes her jewellery brand, one we will no doubt be keeping our eyes on.
By total accident! I had planned to pursue my studies in chemistry and fine arts, hoping to find a career in conservation and restoration of paintings. And then during my foundation year at Central Saint Martins I met my faith: jewellery design.
Vintage jewellery serves as a great inspiration for you. Are there specific names in history that have influenced you?
While growing up in Iran, my grandmother’s jewellery collection fascinated me. She had some spectacular antique-looking pieces, so most probably it’s because of her that I developed this love and tendency to give my pieces a vintage feel.
Chandelier Carnelian Ring
With your Persepolis collection, you pay homage to Persian antiquities. How much does your heritage impact your design aesthetic?
Quite a lot, actually. I try to stay true to my identity, style, personality, and, ultimately, my origin. I grew up in Iran and although I left there about nine 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.
And you seem to have a fascination with regal animals like unicorns, rams, tigers and swans. Which one would best describe you?
I choose my Totem collection’s animals as I admire their elegance, power, characteristics and beauty. I would like to think that I am a select mix of all of them… The swan for its romanticism, the tiger for its energy, the unicorn for wanting to be free, and the elephant as it symbolically represents peace, dignity, wisdom and great memory… But as my memory is not so great I have to give that quality a miss!
If you had to move to a desert island, which one of your pieces would you bring?
That’s a difficult question — it’s like asking a parent which one of their children they love best. I love all my babies, but currently I have a lot of love for my skull bangles and rose earrings.
Aside from your desert island item, what are the most cherished pieces in your closet?
My bags: the burgundy Celine ‘Box’ bag and my suede peach Proenza Schouler are the favorites at the moment, and are receiving tons of love and attention… Then comes the shoes and the sunglasses!
Your collections always have a theme to them: Persepolis, Totem, Skullmania, Flora… What’s next?
The current Persepolis, Totem, Skullmania and Flora collections have been expanded as you will find on my new e-commerce website www.leivankash.com — so that’s new! But I will be introducing an entirely new and exciting collection in the new year.
Describe Leila Kashanipour in three words.