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Laurence Leenaert

The LRNCE fashion label blends the beautiful traditional artisan craft of Morocco with the modern and minimal style of Belgian design. Started by Laurence Leenaert in Marrakech, LRNCE uses interesting textures and bold colored designs on bags, shoes, textiles, and clothes. The designs go back to the essentials by giving the utmost importance to artistic elements such as shape, line and color. 

To put it simply, the ILoveBelgium team is blown away by Laurence Leenaert’s brand. We decided to interview her to learn more about her aspirations, brand, cultural experiences, and more! 

ILB: How would you describe your aesthetic? 
Graphics with ethnic vibes 

ILB: Would you say you mix the Moroccan and Belgian culture in your works? If so, how do you do that? 
The handicraft in Morocco is whoaa. I couldn’t do it better myself, and the people have so much talent and patience here to make beautiful pieces. So if I see those things, it’s natural to mix my world and view with the Moroccan culture, and you become a result that is from both worlds. It’s a combination of putting things together. My latest collection “BORROWED FROM FATIMAA.A” is about the knowledge and handicraft that the Moroccan women have and that a lot of people forget about. Everybody is coming to Morocco to buy the carpets, baskets and textiles in the souks where the men sell the products, yet most of the women are living in small villages but working on the carpets, baskets and painting pottery. 

ILB: What are your favorite aspects of both Belgian and Moroccan fashion? 
Belgian brands are moving with the trends and vibes. They invent new trends and are on the top of the fashion world. The shapes are new but still timeless. That’s inspiring! Moroccan fashion is more about the textiles, embroidery and details. In daily life, fashion needs to be comfortable and not be seen too much: simplicity. When Moroccan women go out, it needs to be over the top with crazy fabrics, and it needs to shine like diamonds. I prefer the daily life clothes of the local men. If you see them walking in the medina, they are so cool and they don’t realize it at all, with old-school sneakers and oversized gandoras in a beautiful woven fabric with some graphics on it. 

ILB: I noticed pictures of a woman painting on your website. Is that you painting? How does art play a role in your fashion and life?
Since I moved to Morocco, I don’t have a lot of photographers around who can help me take photos of my new products, so I started to take photos by myself, and since then I discovered photography a bit. I really like to recreate my own world in a photo. Sometimes I also take photos of my friends in their environment including small details of my work. In the photo you see a very good friend of mine Shirley Villavicencio and she’s a painter, so I gave her my T-shirt while she was working on a new painting. Art is more interesting to me than fashion; I follow the art world more than the fashion world. I prefer to try other art forms out other than only fashion, that’s why I’m busy now with interior objects, pottery, photography... Art gives me more satisfaction, and that is what I’m really looking for. 

ILB: You make very diverse designs from shoes to carpets to pottery, and your website shows dedication to art and photography as well. You really seem like a jack of all trades. What are all your favorite art forms?
I started with making bags in Belgium, and when I moved to Morocco I promised myself to try out new things because in Morocco, everything is possible. My good friend Bobo who has a desert camp in M’hamid, told me everyday when I lived with him in the desert of Morocco that “In Morocco everything is possible, so what are you waiting for?” At the moment I’m more into textiles, objects and pottery. It’s a new field, so it’s very exciting! But also the shoes I design are something I am always thinking about, like how to change this or use this material together with this kind of leather, etc. My head is full of stuff, and that’s why I need to try everything out to have some peace with myself. 

ILB: What sparked your move to Marrakech? 
The feeling that you don’t know what your day is gonna bring. Every day is different, and you can meet unexpected amazing people that make your day good! Discovering new places and the feeling of freedom is addictive. I have so much inspiration that it makes my work, and it gives my life spark. I don’t know how long I’m going to stay here because there is so much more to see, but Marrakech and the Marrakchi people are truly something special! 

ILB: The names of your products are really interesting, like the Nouss Nouss and Lilith. Where does your inspiration for the names come from? 
Of course most of the names have Moroccan influence because of the people I meet, people I work with and friends around me. I hear a lot of stories around me, and I like to use names as a kind of diary, because then it reminds me of those people or stories I have met or heard. Nouss Nouss was one of the first words I learned in Arabic. The meaning is ‘Half/half’. When you ask for a coffee with milk, you say Nouss Nouss. I think it’s cool! Also most of the names in Arabic have a really special meaning that many people about. 

ILB: What is the future of your brand? Are there new projects or adventures you will be undertaking? 
At the moment I’m focusing on interior objects and textiles. I’m looking to open my atelier/shop in Marrakech. That way I can show my work and how it’s made in the atelier, so customers will be able to customize the products. Of course I dream big when I think about the future, but I want to take my time to build something great! 

ILB: What do you love about Belgium? 
After a while I started to miss the typical Belgian food, I never thought I would miss it! I love the choices you have for every kind of cuisine in Belgium. Morocco, in comparison, does not have as much diversity. I love that Belgians are aware about what’s happening in the art scene. Almost all of my friends are working in graphics, painting, fashion or something related to art, and it’s very motivating to have those people around you. 

Next time you are in Marrakech, you know where to stop by. But until then, check out LRNCE’s gorgeous artisanal fashion world inspired by the beauty of everyday life in Morocco.

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