Canadian Fashion Connection – KIEN (K’Ien) Jewellery

Founded in Montreal by Naila Jaffer on February 3, 1986, K’Ien Art Concept Ltee. was listed as a wholesale distributor of jewellery. This means they didn’t manufacture the pieces, but had them made (probably in Canada) with their label.

The company didn’t survive the early 90s recession. Their last annual general meeting was held in 1991, they failed to file after 1994 and were dissolved for non-compliance by the Canadian government on March 6, 2000.

The difficult to read label that looks like KTFM is actually K’IEN.

Kenneth Jay Lane, 1932 – 2017

Kenneth Jay Lane took costume jewellery to a new level in the 1960s when his fake gems graced a new swath of sophisticated women, including the Duchess of Windsor.

Lane was born April 22, 1932 in Detroit, Michigan, and attended the Rhode Island School of Design. Lane had worked in Vogue‘s art department and designed shoes for Arnold Scaasi when he began experimenting with jewellery design.

He launched his own line of costume jewellery in 1963 and was soon noticed by Diana Vreeland, who promoted his work. Tasseled earrings, animal theme bangles, and huge dinner rings all came from Kenneth Jay Lane. In 1966 he won a special Coty Award and in 1968 the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award.

Lane wrote his memoir Faking It, in 1996, and a documentary about his life is in the works by an English film maker. He died in his sleep, during the night of July 19/20.

Bijoux Electriques!

crownIn 1879 Scientific American reported “…there is nothing more curious than electric jewellery.”

A Parisian watchmaker who enjoyed creating mechanical birds, Gustave Trouvé also invented the Lilliputian battery that could be tucked inside a pocket or hidden within an evening coiffure to power-up various forms of illuminated and mechanical jewellery. Trouvé’s bijoux electriques made their debut in 1879 at the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the Ecole Centrale des Arts et Metiers at the Hotel Continental in Paris. A journalist from La Nature that attended the event reported:

bird“Some of the guests are wearing Trouvé’s charming electric jewels: a death’s head tie-pin; a rabbit drummer tie-pin. Suppose you are carrying one of these jewels below your chin. Whenever someone takes a look at it, you discreetly slip your hand into the pocket of your waistcoat, tip the tiny battery to horizontal and immediately the death’s head rolls its glittering eyes and grinds its teeth. The rabbit starts working like the timpanist at the opera. The key piece, a bird, was a rich, animated set of diamonds, belonging to Princess Pauline de Metternich…the princess could at will make the wings of her diamond bird flap.”

In 1884 The Folies Bergère commissioned Trouvé to create illuminated crowns and brooches for twenty flower costumed dancers for their Le Ballet des Fleurs. In England, Trouvé provided illuminated helmets, shields and spears for 50 Amazon women costumes for London’s Empire Theatre’s production Chilpéperic: Grand Music Spectacle. The audience, which included a young Oscar Wilde, burst into deafening applause in the final act when the Amazons appeared on stage.

Most of Trouvé’s bijoux electriques were destroyed in 1980 when the building in which his archives was held burned to the ground. For more information about Trouvé and his electrical jewellery see this article:

Electric Jewellery and the Forgotten Genius who Lit Up Paris

Canadian Tiara that survived the Lusitania goes on the block…

Lady Marguerite wearing the tiara, 1920s

Lady Marguerite wearing the tiara, 1920s

In 1882, Hugh Allan, a Scottish immigrant to Montreal in the 1830s, died, leaving his business, the Allan Shipping Line, to his son Hugh Montagu Allan. ‘Montagu’ as he was known, grew the company into the largest privately owned shipping company in the world. In 1906 he was knighted by Edward VII, and in 1909 Sir Allan sold the Allan Shipping Line to Canadian Pacific. That same year he commissioned a tiara from Cartier for his wife Lady Marguerite. The Allan name lives on in the name of the Allan Cup for amateur ice hockey.

Sir Allan and Lady Marguerite had four children, and in 1915 their eldest daughter, 20-year-old Martha, left for England to serve with the Voluntary Aid Detachment (front line nursing). The rest of the family would follow but Sir Allan had to get paperwork in order first, so Lady Marguerite and her two other daughters, Anna 16 and Gwendolyn 15, went ahead, sailing on the Lusitania.

_72684109_lusitania_gettyOn 4 February 1915, Germany declared British waters a war zone and any allied ships would be at risk from attack by German U boats. On the day the Allans departed, 1 May 1915, the Imperial German Embassy of Washington reminded tourists of the European war, placing a warning next to a newspaper advert for the Lusitania’s return voyage. However, it was generally thought the Lusitania’s speed kept her safely out of reach from  German U boat torpedoes.

On the final day of the Lusitania’s voyage, and within sight of the Irish coast, at 2:10 pm, the Lusitania crossed in front of a German U boat that was low on fuel and preparing to return home. A single torpedo fired at the ship struck the starboard side and as she sped on at 18 knots, water was forced into the Lusitania’s hull, sinking the huge ship in 18 minutes with a loss of 1,200 lives. Lady Marguerite survived, but suffered a broken collarbone and hip; her two daughters perished. Lady Marguerite’s two maids also survived, one of whom had saved Lady Marguerite’s tiara from going down with the ship.


Lady Marguerite’s tiara, made in 1909

Two years after the sinking, the Allans experienced more misfortune when their only son died on his first patrol with the Royal Navy Air Service in Belgium. Their surviving daughter, Martha, never married and died 15 years before Lady Marguerite herself died in 1957 at the age of 86. The tiara was left to an English cousin, and her granddaughter has now decided to sell the tiara at Sotheby’s, where it is expected to sell for around a half million dollars.

Added November 11: The tiara sold for $ 799,265.00 U.S. dollars,

Josephine Bonaparte’s engagement ring

d64b9afb-4eb2-4fb6-aaaa-6f7a37b73b60_481110_496244733745644_823198479_nThe diamond and sapphire engagement ring Napoleon Bonaparte gave to Joséphine will go up for auction March 24 at the Osenat auction house in Fontainebleau, France with an estimate of $20,000. The gold ring is set with teardrop-shaped gems, a diamond and sapphire, each approximately one carat in size.

Empress Joséphine was a 32 year old widow and mother of two when the 26 year old Napoleon wed her on March 9, 1796. The general was not yet the self-crowned emperor and did not have a lot of money at the time, which explains the ring’s ordinary style.

Added April 3: The ring sold for $948,000