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Famed American costume jewelry designer Kenneth Jay Lane is taking his story to the silver screen.
Fabulously Fake: The Real Life of Kenneth Jay Lane tells the story of the jeweler’s illustrious 50-year career, featuring interviews with some of his closest friends, including former first lady Barbara Bush, dame Joan Collins, designers Tory Burch and Diane von Furstenberg, and celebrity couple Anne and Kirk Douglas, to name a few.
British filmmaker Gisele Roman wrote, produced and directed the film, which has yet to find a distributor. Roman will be taking the doc on the film festival circuit this fall; it’s projected to air in early 2018.
“Kenneth Jay Lane is a non-conformist who changed the perception of the establishment towards costume jewelry. He even got the Duchess of Windsor and a host of British royals to wear costume jewelry, unheard of at the time,” says Roman. “His designs still define the modern era and he continues to work at 85!”
Lane was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 22, 1932, and attended the University of Michigan and the Rhode Island School of Design. Before launching his jewelry business, Lane had a stint in Vogue‘s art department and designed shoes under Roger Vivier at Christian Dior and Arnold Scaasi. While decorating jewels on footwear, Lane started experimenting with jewelry design.
By 1963, he launched his own line of costume jewelry and garnered fans in the Duchess of Windsor, who is said to have launched his career by recommending him to to her friends, and legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland. Former first ladies Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan; iconic stars Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn; and Princess Diana were also among his famous clients.
In the film, Collins recalls a time when she was stopped at customs with her KJL jewels and even the customs official couldn’t stop complimenting her about the baubles. “I was going through customs in Mexico — I keep all my jewelry in a box in my wheely, and the customs man saw it and said ‘Let me open it, let me see it.’ He looked at it and I said, ‘Can we go into a private room? Because I don’t want people to see it,’ even though it wasn’t real,” says Collins. “We went into the private room, and the customs man is picking it up and said, ‘Very nice, these earrings very good.’ Finally, I said, ‘It’s not real you know, it’s not diamonds and gold and rubies, it’s faux jewelry. And finally he closed it and said ‘you have very nice stuff here!'”
Designer Carolina Herrera, who’s also featured in the film, remembers a time when there was a robbery during a friend’s dinner party in Caracas, Venezuela, and the KJL gems were the biggest concern. “We were at the home of a friend of mine who has a lot of jewels, and during dinner the butler came to say there’d been a burglary in the house, and they were very concerned about it because it had been upstairs. Her only reaction was, ‘Oh, gosh! I hope they didn’t take any of my Kenny Lanes!'”
At age 85, Lane doesn’t seem to have plans to slow down. In addition to the doc, he tells The Hollywood Reporter he’s been focused on his e-comm site, which offers affordable tassel earrings, pearl necklaces, bold cuffs, embellished brooches and cocktail rings.
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