They glitter, they dazzle, they fool the eye, but one thing is certain: they are all concocted by the world's most beloved and successful designer of costume jewelry, Kenneth Jay Lane. In Kenneth Jay Lane: Faking It, the designer tells us in his own words about his remarkable career and equally remarkable life. The entertainment begins as Lane recalls his transformation in the early 1960s from a shoe designer for Christian Dior to his rookie period designing jewelry for Hattie Carnegie. Knowing "everybody" was the best way to build a career, and this bon vivant has been fortunate to combine life and work into one seamless string of delightful adventures, all of them wonderfully told. We learn of Kenneth Jay Lane's friendships with Diana Vreeland and the Duchess of Windsor; with First Ladies Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Barbara Bush, and Nancy Reagan; and with such legendary film greats as Audrey Hepburn and Claudette Colbert - all of whom inspired and wore so many of his jeweled creations and are seen here in period photographs. Not only did women influence the designer, but so did his various travels and his great interest in art. From the markets of India to the Crown Jewels of England and the world's great jewelry houses, Faberge and Cartier among them, Kenneth Jay Lane has found scores of ideas for his celebrated creations. Paired with Lane's charmingly told anecdotes are dazzling photographs of his jewelry.
LANE, Kenneth Jay
Inscribed on half-title page
Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
9 1/4" x 9"
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Kenneth Jay Lane (April 22, 1932 – July 20, 2017) was an American costume jewelry designer.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of an automotive parts supplier, He is of Jewish descent. Lane attended the University of Michigan and the Rhode Island School of Design.
Lane was a member of the New York art staff on Vogue, before going on to design footwear for Delman Shoes between 1956–58 and for the New York branch of Christian Dior from 1958–63, where he trained under Roger Vivier.
Lane was one of the subjects of Andy Warhol's Screen Tests (where, in a film taken in 1966, he represented "high fashion").
From 1977 until his death his home in Manhattan was a duplex in the Stanford White mansion completed in 1892 and one of the few surviving mansions on Park Avenue. From 1923-77, it served as the home of the Advertising Club. At that time it was converted into a cooperative apartment house. His living room is the former club library and features an original marble mantelpiece, original artwork and lamps designed by Robert Denning of Denning & Fourcade.
Lane collected Orientalist paintings and there is a gallery named in his honor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in tribute to his philanthropy and bequests.
Lane started designing jewelry and launched his business in 1963 while producing bejeweled footwear for Dior and Arnold Scaasi. He first came to public attention after Jo Hughes, a fashion industry insider, showed some of his designs to Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor, who bought several pieces and recommended him to her friends. As both costume jewelry and society reporting were popular at the time, press reports of this incident launched Lane's business. His talent at copying high end jewelry from a quick glimpse proved popular, his clients proudly wearing the faux pieces.
Jacqueline Kennedy was among those who commissioned fake jewels from Lane in order to enable her to wear them more freely while keeping the valuable originals in a safe.
Writing for The New York Times at the time of Truman Capote's Black and White Ball in 1966, Marilyn Bender reported that the "most important men in a fashionable woman's life were her hairdresser, her make-up artist and Kenneth Jay Lane." Lane's designs were hugely popular with a fashionable clientele that could have afforded authentic jewels; while stylists used them to complement the fashionable large hairstyles, short skirts and kaftans in fashion photographs.
In 1966, he was awarded a special Coty Award for his jewelry design. He won the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award in 1968. Other awards received in the 1960s include the Tobé Coburn award (1966), the Harper's Bazaar International award (1967), the Maremodo di Capri-Tiberio d'Oro award (1967), and the Swarovski award (1969). In 1990 he won the Brides award.
In addition to his American establishment, Lane had boutiques in London and Paris. He created designs for Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Vreeland, and Audrey Hepburn, among many other high-profile clients. More recently in 2011, Britney Spears and Nicole Richie were seen wearing Lane jewelry. The Duchess of Windsor was rumoured to have been buried wearing one of his belts. Barbara Bush wore one of his three-strand faux pearl necklaces to her husband's inaugural ball.
In 1993, the year Lane commemorated the 30th anniversary of his founding, The New York Times compared him to Coco Chanel for having successfully made faux jewelry chic, noting that unlike Chanel's wealthy clientele, his rather more affordable designs were accessible to a far wider audience. He established a presence as a vendor of jewelry on the cable television home-shopping network QVC, his twice-a-month four-hour appearances in 1997 each taking $1.5 million. In 1998 the FIT Museum held a retrospective exhibition of Lane's jewelry from the 1960s to the late 1990s.
Through Andy Warhol he met Nicola Weymouth, an English socialite who became his wife in 1974. They divorced in 1977. Kenneth Lane died in 2017, aged 85. No known immediate family members survive.
Kenneth Jay Lane was member of London's swinging set who achieved a small piece of cultural immortality as the subject of a portrait by Warhol.