Air Afrique Partners with Bottega Veneta to Launch New Magazine

“We want to revive the African transcendence that Air Afrique represented”

Independence was a recurring theme across West Africa in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. In that era of the region’s wind of change, countries relished their self-determining authority, which inevitably extended into collaborative efforts and general camaraderie. In 1961, the leaders of Senegal, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, Congo and Chad launched Air Afrique, an airline for intra-regional movement and as a link to the global African diaspora, as well as the rest of the world.

Air Afrique was undoubtedly a pan-African endeavour and in its four decades of existence, was a promoter of culture, serving as a patron for film festivals such as FESPACO, large art exhibitions like Biennale de Dakar, and more seminal cultural gatherings. The airline also housed Balafon, the now-defunct magazine publication whose slogan read, “for a better knowledge of Black Africa.” These issues, which were produced and sold between 1964 and 2000 served as a document of the history and evolving times of the African continent, promoting a forward-facing narrative away from any Afro-sceptic sentiments.

Predominantly made up of young Parisian creatives from across the African diaspora, the Air Afrique collective is set to release their debut issue. Led by Creative Director, Lamine Diaoune, co-founders Djiby Kebe and Jeremy Konko,  and editor-in-chief Amandine Nana, the collective was inspired by the now-defunct pan-African airline and its magazine publication, which served as a premier cultural manifesto in its heyday. With this launch, Air Afrique’s editorial approach will be in line with the legacy of pan-African magazines of the 20th century, to serve as an accessible cultural platform of knowledge and aesthetics designed to connect and stimulate contemporary Afro-diasporic perspectives, stories and cultural initiatives.

“We want to revive the African transcendence that Air Afrique represented,” Lamine Diaoune says of Air Afrique. “Our mission is to preserve this heritage, to put Air Afrique back in the cultural conversation, and to build on their example of cultural engagement.” Djibe Kebe adds: “Air Afrique was more than an airline. It was a cultural platform. We want to share the Air Afrique archive and create our own archive—to capture this moment of change in Black awareness and expression.”

For its first issue, Air Afrique has partnered with luxury fashion house, Bottega Veneta. In this partnership, Bottega Veneta will co-host the magazine’s launch party today in Paris during the ongoing Men’s Fashion week, while creating a series of unique campaign images that will combine the purpose of Air Afrique and the aesthetics of Bottega Veneta. The brand will also release a limited-edition series of blankets designed by Franco-Sudanese designer, Abdel El Tayeb. 10 blankets will be sold through Bottega Veneta channels and the proceeds will be donated.

The Air Afrique collaboration is part of Bottega Veneta’s unique approach to print media partnerships, focused on new and revived cultural magazines. In 2022, the brand sponsored the return of BUTT, the iconic magazine focused queer culture and sexuality. Dating back to the seminal 1978 campaign, “When Your Own Initials Are Enough,” in Interview magazine, Bottega Veneta has been associated with significant creative media partnerships, and Air Afrique is its latest marquee endeavour.

With sterling inspiration from the past, a winning mission statement for its present and future, as well as extensive support from a hugely popular patron of the arts, Air Afrique is primed for immediate, as well as lasting, impact.