WHO: Leila Kashanipour AKA LeiVanKash. Stunning girl, talented jewellery designer and incredibly warm and friendly person, Leila has worked with such big names as Suzanne Syz, Eskandar, Asprey and Stephen Webster and now has her own jewellery brand.
WHAT: gorgeous contemporary jewellery collections
WHY: craftsmanship, elegant unique pieces that combine modern touch with centuries inspired Middle Eastern history
LOOK FOR: statement rings, delicate bracelets and classic Heart Me collection
Can you tell a little about yourself and how you got into jewellery business?
I am pretty international I would say, I am from Iranian parents born in the USA and living here in London now for almost 8 years!
I actually did not know I want to do jewellery design as my BA in Saint Martins and had a passion for Chemistry and fine art. I thought I would major in chemistry and minor in fine arts in the US as I wanted to pursue conservation and restoration of paintings! Then didn’t end up going to the states and applied to CSM and took the artsy root which I so don’t regret... during my foundation year at central saint martins I realized I really did not want to be taught how to paint so I took a jewellery course and fell in love.
I loved creating symbolic catwalk pieces and my tutor suggested I should definitely apply for jewellery design and so I did! Ever since my first year I have been hand making and selling my pieces!
You've mentioned creating jewellery pieces for catwalk shows... Have you worked with fashion designers and would you consider working with fashion houses in the future?
Well it all started with me wanting to do big theatrical even controversial catwalk pieces of jewellery. My degree collection was based on female suppression and the entire collection was made from glass and nails.
I surely would love to do a collaboration with a fashion designer that relates to my feel of jewellery... All in its right time!
I have been working with Eskandar (fashion designer) for 4 years now and my collections of rings and necklaces are represented and retailed at his flagship stores in London, Paris, Milan and New York.
Are there any other jewellers you admire?
Yes, I love jewellery. For fine jewellery I admire Dior and the line Wendy Yue does for Annoushka. They are magical!
Where do you find inspiration for your beautiful collection?
I love vintage jewellery, and take a lot of inspiration from the stones i use in my pieces and design around them. Also I refer a lot to my culture. most of the time I make pieces depending on how I feel.
What are your favourite materials and gem stones to work with?
Silver and yellow gold are what most of my pieces are made in. I like brass in some cases as it has that antique looking finish and feel.
For gemstones I can never get enough of diamonds and that why I pursued Diamond grading at GIA (Gemological Institute of America) in London. Semi-precious stones, I would say, labradorite, lapis and turquoise are my best friends.
What kind of woman wears your jewellery, you think?
The kind that wants to stand out and make a statement.
Which celebrities would you like to wear your jewellery and why?
I am so happy Olivia Palermo is already a big LeiVanKash fan (and I have named my rose ring after her). I believe my pieces are quite empowering and whoever wears them will feel like a celeb.
Do you wear your pieces yourself? Is there a favourite one you enjoy wearing the most?
Yes, I do, the skull bracelet never comes off. I love the Labradorite eye ring and my Olivia rose ring very much! But then again each piece has a personality of its own and I enjoy wearing them in a different way.
What other things in life do you enjoy apart from creating beautiful jewellery?
Traveling, eating chocolate, spending quality time with my amazing friends and of course shopping.
Where do you see yourself in, say, 5 years from now?
Hopefully being very happy running my business on a much bigger scale. One step at a time...
5 things about Leila:
Favourite dessert: Chocolate Fondant, Chocolate cake, Chocolate brownie, Chocolate Crepe, Chocolate chocolate chocolate! I was given a "Chocolate Queen" award at my prom so should explain it all!
If you could be anywhere right now, where would you find yourself? Taha'a in the French Polynesia...
Most favourite item in your wardrobe right now? My Celine bags and Rag & bone sunglasses (shame they won’t be much of use in this British weather!!!)
Shoes or bags? Oh no no no! this one is way too difficult... its like asking who's your favourite parent!
One of your guilty pleasures? Having sweets over a proper meal.
You can view all pieces at boticca.com