This brooch is by the late great Kenneth Jay Lane. Kenneth Lane was one of the doyens of the costume jewellery industry. An only child born in Detroit in 1930 and by all accounts a precious and rather spoilt child. At 15 he and his mother visited New York, in an interview many years later he recalls “I had a grey herringbone Chesterfield coat with a grey velvet collar and yellow chamois gloves. I must say at 15 I was quite good-looking, and I was allowed to smoke by my mother only using a Dunhill filter Denicotea cigarette holder. So if you can imagine me at 15… mmm-hmm.”1 New York had made its mark and at 22 he moved there and began working at Vogue and later at Dior. His break into jewellery as is so often the case, was an accident. In 1961 he was working for the fashion designer Arnold Scaasi and ‘for a bit of fun’ he designed some earrings and bangles to go with some shoes. They were an instant hit.
In 1963 Kenneth Lane established his own business making costume jewellery. His style was playful, often inspired by the Far East, Middle East and China. His jewellery is well made with an emphasis on quality paste stones and enamelling. His clientele reads like a who’s who, most first ladies have worn his jewellery, for example Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan, along with Hollywood stars, for example Greta Garbo and Audrey Hepburn. It is also rumoured the Duchess of Windsor was buried in one of his buckle belts. I’m rather fond of my Humpty Dumpty brooch, even if he does have a slightly sad expression. It is one of 11 Kenneth Lane pieces in my own collection, I’m often tempted by their quirkiness and size, I do like a statement brooch.
For a short while Kenneth Lane was married to the English socialite Nicola Weymouth, famed for her “fire-engine red hair and enormous carnelian eyes”. In May 1975 the couple were featured in the ‘Interview’ and a portrait of them was done by Andy Warhol. The ‘Interview’ magazine was founded by Andy Warhol in 1969.
Mr & Mrs Kenneth Lane May 1975 Interview Magazine
When I was doing some work for the TubeFlash project, I had to contact various jewellery designers, Kenneth Lane was the first designer to respond to my request. I shall always be grateful to him for his speedy reply and kind wishes.
- Kenneth Jay Lane: The fake’s progress by Hermione Hoby, 4th April 2011.