Clearly, Made in Africa is the new cool, with brands from Yves Saint Laurent to Vivienne Westwood catching on, and now Lanvin. This fall will see the debut of Lanvin's Petite collection (see the cutest photos here) alongside a limited edition of Lanvin-clad dolls handmade in Swaziland by women who work with Dessine L'Espoire (Designing Hope).
Desinne L'Espoire's 'mission as an NGO is to support people affected by HIV and AIDS' through awareness programmes and economic partnerships. Swaziland has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world (about 25.9% of adults in 2009, according to this source) and 'more than half of workers in Swaziland's garment industry are living with HIV'.
With the rapid increase in NGOs and social entrepreneurs touting the 'Made in Africa' message, it's easy to fetishize it or dismiss it as a gimmick, but Lanvin's approach is compelling in that a 122 year-old house (Lanvin was founded in 1889) puts its heritage behind a disturbing epidemic in a way that not only sheds light on it, but also contributes to helping those affected by it.
A percentage of the proceeds from these dolls will go to Desinne L'Espoire and each doll will retail for £220.
More information here [Vogue UK].
If you're interested in learning more about the reality of HIV in Swaziland, we've found the following resources:
HIV prevalence among factory workers "50 percent" [PlusNews]
Swaziland's Silent HIV Epidemic [Foreign Policy]
Swazis put life on hold because of stigma [SAFAIDS]