To the East, Somewhere

Delacroix, like many Europeans during the 19th century, was dazzled by the exotic aesthetic of the Orient, a place that existed in the imaginations of those who wanted to be seduced by the unfamiliar patterns, fabrics, and people. For Delacroix, the Orient allowed him to satisfy his curiosity and romantic notion of design without any comparison to previous visual conventions. For the French viewer who had never been to any of the countries that constituted the Orient, the paintings would, as Cézanne describes it, “flow into the eye like wine down the throat and one is intoxicated.”

Delacroix accompanied the diplomat Charles de Mornay to Morocco, and, reportedly, was allowed to visit a harem in the city of Algiers. Of course, his Women of Algiers in their Apartments depicts European-looking women as though they were the fruits and flowers of a still life, and some think that oriental art reflects the colonialist mentality. On a more basic level, however, the inaccessibility of the Orient was erotic, mysterious, and simply different.

Suno’s Spring/Summer ’09 collection is a modern-day collaboration between New York artists and Kenyan craftsmen and women. The materials and patterns come from the City and travel to Kenya, where small workshops turn them into one of a kind pieces.