Legendary designer Kenneth Jay Lane has died at 85. The costume jewelry maestro passed away in his sleep in his Manhattan apartment earlier today, and leaves behind an undisputed career of accessorizing some of the most famous women in the world.
From Princess Diana to Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, dame Joan Collins, Lena Horne, and back, the high-profile clients who wore Lane's faux jewels were endless, and can be largely credited to Wallis Simpson, the socialite and Duchess of Windsor who recommended Lane's creations to all of her fabulous friends. In 1963, after working in the art department of Vogue, the designer launched his eponymous business while still bedazzling shoes for Christian Dior and quickly became known for recreating high-end jewelry for fractions of the price. Celebrities — and even, First Ladies like Jackie Kennedy. and Barbara Bush — wore Lane's fake versions without the stress of being the real deal, often keeping the authentic pieces in a safe only to be brought out on special occasions.
But off the red carpet and in the costume jewelry market, Lane led the charge of creating larger-than-life jewels that photographed well in high-fashion magazines and were made out of rhinestones and faux gems that anyone could afford. His ideas to recreate famous pieces of jewelry (such as the necklace from the opening scene of Breakfast At Tiffany's) helped garner Lane mass appeal, but also, is probably the reason why you or the women in your family already know his name.
In her book Party of The Century, which recounts tales from Truman Capote's exclusive Black and White Ball, author Deborah Davis wrote that Lane was the perfect "extra man" for fêtes, due to his impeccable taste and wit. Lane's life was so glamorous, in fact, that a documentary on the king of costume jewelry has reportedly been in the works for some time. And in 1998, the Fashion Institute of Technology held a retrospective on Lane's work from the '60s to the '90s. And with no plans of closing his business any time soon, the legacy of the late American designer will undoubtedly live on. But the man himself will be missed. Ahead, we look back at some of his most fabulous jewelry moments.