Why paint rabbits or hares?
I could tell you the deep meaning of my art — that rabbits or hares are common motifs in the visual arts, with variable mythological and artistic meanings in different cultures. That the Hare has been associated with resurrection (Oooo… fierce!), fertility, or sensuality (double fierce for that!)
BUT REALLY... You may be surprised to learn that my real last name Lelievre, means ‘The Hare’ in French. I could stop here, but the truth is, there is more I want to share with you.
For the last four years, fans, followers, agencies, and even new friends have known me as Laurent Marchand. When I began modeling, my model agency asked me to change my first and last name because I was publicly “too gay” and that I “needed to rebrand myself to be more straight, yet still chic and French'.” That is how I became Laurent Marchand. While many in this circumstance, choose a name that feels exotic or even liberating, I wanted to hang onto my roots, even if it was a small piece of my real identity. Laurent is my biologic dad’s first name and Marchand is my mom’s middle name.
Wonder why I was perceived as “too gay?” Unless you’re a runway or editorial model, agencies put mass market appeal at a premium, so we have to be generic and polished. After all, “who can be cast and promoted all around the world being publicly gay?” I can’t tell you how frustrated and pissed off I was. I had just run out of my country for the SAME reason, but I wanted to make a decent living so I gave it a shot. Laurent Marchand it would be for the next several years.
Fortunately, times have quickly changed and American society’s views on homosexuality have relaxed; but perhaps more importantly, I have also changed. Maintaining character is exhausting and the pressure can feel immense. Ultimately, it took it’s toll and nearly broke me as a person. Today I am proud to be who I am again! Creating art with my pastries, paintings, fragrances, candles, and even ready-to-wear has given me the freedom to express my reality. For the first time in years, I am Charles-Laurent Lelievre. I am doing what I love and doing it for me.
This experience has given me hope and happiness that I want to share. With this in mind, I am giving 20% of all art sales to the The Human Rights Campaign to fight for inequality with the hope that one day, everyone can truly be his or herself without judgement.