My personal style signifiers are oversized tops. I must have about 100 shirts in this vein. My favourite is a Henrik Vibskov one, but I also make a lot of them myself in soft, handwoven fabrics. I pick happy colours and never dark ones, because they wouldn’t work here in Marrakech, where I live. Recently I added an oversized olive-green gilet from the Belgian brand Bellerose to my collection. It’s so hot here that everything I wear needs to be very loose and comfortable, especially when I’m working. 

Leenaert on her roof terrace in Marrakech with her Acne Studios jacket and LRNCE Illou mirror
Leenaert on her roof terrace in Marrakech with her Acne Studios jacket and LRNCE Illou mirror © Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui

The last thing I bought and loved is an analogue camera, a Contax G2, because I take all my photos myself and I’m obsessed with old cameras. I got it online from a shop in Berlin, then I shipped it to my father, who sent it to me from Belgium. That’s how much I wanted it. Available at filmcamerastore.co.uk

On my wishlist is a pair of Marni shoes – green leather loafers. I love Marni and I wear loafers all the time when I’m at home.

Leenaert’s Marni loafers
Leenaert’s Marni loafers © Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui

The best gift I’ve given recently was just the other week, when I shipped a box to my parents in Belgium that was full of local products from the souk in the medina. I sent them amlou – it’s like the Moroccan Nutella, made from roasted almonds, argan nuts and honey – black soap, some of my ceramics, a shirt I made for my father, sandals for my mother, mint tea and flowers that I had dried myself. I put a note in the box and they sent me a video recording of them opening it. It was an emotional moment as I hadn’t seen them in such a long time.

The last thing Leenaert bought and loved: a Contax G2 camera
The last thing Leenaert bought and loved: a Contax G2 camera © Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui

The best gift I have ever received is a beautiful jacket from Acne Studios from my husband Ayoub. It’s an off-white woven fabric with a terracotta print, very oversized, very long. I’d wanted it for a long time; it was a special edition. I’d found the last one online and when it was gone I was really sad. But it turned out he had bought it for me.

In my fridge you’ll always find lemons. Ayoub tells me you shouldn’t put lemons in the fridge, but I like them fresh and they dry out too fast here otherwise. I use them a lot in food, drinks and tea – almost every day.

Lemons – seen here in one of Leenaert’s bowls – are a staple in her fridge
Lemons – seen here in one of Leenaert’s bowls – are a staple in her fridge © Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui

My favourite room in my house is my bedroom – I love hanging out on my bed. I live in an old house in the centre of Marrakech’s Gueliz quarter, and the room has high ceilings and a big French window that I always leave open onto the garden. I like to be surrounded by my stuff – there are clothes everywhere, ceramics on the floor, a lot of textiles. I change the colours and textures of the bedlinen all the time. I buy bedsheets at Merci in Paris and from Australian brand Bed Threads, which does beautiful colours. But the coolest are from Bless, the German brand, like the one with two people sleeping printed on the linen.

The object I would never part with is the first camera I bought at 18, with my first earnings. It’s a Canon A-1 and the most precious thing I have. When I moved to Marrakech five years ago I had to leave it behind, as I only took 100kg with me – half fabric, half clothes. But it’s back by my side now and I take it out with me every day.

With time on my hands I draw. What I realised last year is that if I’m not busy I go crazy. My favourite thing to do to calm down is to paint. I love to combine colours and materials and I draw a lot in my studio as it has a big table to work on.

Leenaert with one of her ceramics
Leenaert with one of her ceramics © Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui

I have a collection of ceramics. I like to collect pieces by other artists, such as Laurent Nicolas. He worked for Louis Vuitton in the leather-bag department for 20 years and then quit to make his evening passion a profession. He does blazing and ceramics with ropes, a really lengthy and complicated technique. I also have many Italian pieces that I picked up when travelling. The collection is like a diary – the ceramics I buy on trips mixed with my own. The ones I made when I first moved to Marrakech are my favourite, because I remember how excited I was and they are very rough, colourful and spontaneous. I was scared and cautious when I started out – now I am confident and move fast, and I can see this in the work.

The last music I downloaded was the album Igor by Tyler, The Creator. I listen to it while I work. I wish I could see him live but I haven’t had the opportunity yet.

A cause close to my heart is animal welfare. The horses and the donkeys here in Marrakech are sometimes very badly treated and made to carry heavy loads in the sun without any water. So I donate to an organisation called Jarjeer Mule, co-founded by an Englishwoman who does great work to save horses and donkeys that have been exploited. jarjeer.org

Her custom-made wedding ring
Her custom-made wedding ring © Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui

My style icon is Chloë Sevigny – her look is always very interesting. There is also a woman I follow on Instagram called Laila Gohar (@lailacooks). She is an artist and chef who does catering at fashion shows, and I admire her style and her work.

My favourite neighbourhood for shopping is Le Marais in Paris. The first time I went there was five years ago, when I had a long-distance relationship with Ayoub and I often flew via Paris to visit him. I love the bookstore Yvon Lambert and always return from there with at least one book. I’ll pass by The Broken Arm clothes store and then visit the David Zwirner gallery. Merci is one of my favourite stores, so it’s dangerous to drop in there. Then you have APC, Ami, Le Bon Marché – everything is so beautifully decorated there, so French. 

My dancing playlist always includes a song by the South Korean DJ Peggy Gou called “Starry Night” – it’s just so happy. At our wedding we hosted three nights in a row and every night, when we wanted to get everybody on the dancefloor, we played this one song, “Saraswati” by Rey&Kjavik, an electronic musician with mystical and spiritual influences.

The Tea Party chair from Leenaert’s latest collection
The Tea Party chair from Leenaert’s latest collection © Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui

My cocktail of choice is a Negroni. It’s strong, but I like it. When you’ve had a really long day, it’s just the thing. My sister is here now – she’s been in Marrakech with me since March – and after three days of lockdown we were, like, “Oh my God, we need to have a Negroni and forget what’s happening.”

An unforgettable place I would love to go back to is Jaipur. I went to India two years ago with Ayoub and I loved the handcraft there. At the end of the trip, in Udaipur, he proposed to me. But I would go back because of the magic there – the atmosphere is similar to Marrakech. It’s a very chaotic vibe. I think you need to get lost to appreciate it. 

“My collection is like a diary”: some of Leenaert’s ceramics
© Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui (2)

I brought back many souvenirs from India, including many fabrics and a lot of hand-block printed textiles. In Udaipur I bought a really flashy, beautifully embroidered jacket, but I can never find the right opportunity to wear it because it’s just so much! It’s hanging there in my room and I like to look at it and appreciate it as an object. I think I must have been in the shop for two hours – the owner explained everything to me about their craftsmanship.

The music I’m listening to is Radio Pigalle, the playlist of Le Pigalle hotel in Paris. I also listen to a Belgian radio station called Studio Brussel. They play so many alternative genres and also feature lots of young Belgian artists like Oscar and the Wolf, so I stay up to date.

Her Jacquemus sandals
Her Jacquemus sandals © Yoriyas Yassine Alaoui

An indulgence I would never forgo is the hammam. Every three weeks I go to Zine O’Zine in Gueliz. It’s a place for locals. There’s nothing fancy about it – it costs 150 Moroccan dirham, so about €13. When it’s cold outside, it’s the best thing to do. It’s nice to go there with a friend, spend an hour or two together and have tea afterwards. In the beginning I thought it was strange because you need to get naked and somebody washes you like you’re a child or a baby. But it’s a moment to share with someone you love.



Get alerts on Style when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Comments have not been enabled for this article.

Follow the topics in this article