Words Lara Akinnawo
Laurence Chauvin Buthaud is the Parisian designer behind fashion label LaurenceAirline. Her masculine collections display a wide range of influences, from graphic African prints to Japanese polka dots to Scottish plaid. Profits are reinvested back into the development of the company and a training programme for employees working in the Côte d'Ivoire workshop.
Buthaud also plans to open a school and a cultural centre in Abidjan in the future, to enable greater dialogue between Europe and Côte d'Ivoire.
What drives you? My internal voice.
How do you picture the future of the fashion industry in Africa?
Africa has an incredibly diverse and skilled tradition in craftsmanship. I hope that the African fashion industry develops in a way that is responsible and respectful and draws from Africa's instinctive beauty, pure and raw.
How is fashion important to the future of Africa?
Fashion gives an image of elegance. It is important that African fashion shows the different aesthetics of the continent. But we also need a fashion industry that passes on values. Africa needs to unify, and it would be incredible if the African fashion industry is able to encourage and support solidarity.
What are the main misconceptions when it comes to women in your industry?
It is challenging to be a woman in the industry. Your capabilities are questioned to the point that you can push yourself to be a superwoman, and take on traditionally masculine traits to survive. It is important to respect yourself as a woman, as well as make yourself be respected so that your business is successful.
What advice do you have for anyone starting out in your the fashion industry?
Take your time, define your goals as clearly as possible, surround yourself with good people.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career?
Developing a business inspired by my humanitarian and creative vision that at the same time is an effective and stable business.
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