Above: Designer Leila Kashanipour by Michelle
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 the SS12 collection has already caught the magpie eyes
of Olivia Palermo, Amber Le Bon, Chloe Green and Florence
Welch. Designer Leila Kashanipour, the lady with both the vision
and the artistic flare, chats to us about her journey into design
and her work.
Because: Can you tell us a bit more
about your story and how you became a designer?
Leila Kashanipour: Funny 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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
B: Who are some of your
favourite jewelry designers?
LK: I have great
admiration for Sevan Bicakci's jewelry! His intricate work is
To buy LeiVanKash head to Oxygen Boutique and Harvey
Nichols at the end of the month. Or all jewellery is available online.
Text and interview by Soraya Bakhtiar