INTERVIEW BY GIRARD-PERREGAUX'S MECHANICS OF STYLE - LUXURY ARTIST SOOSAN SILANEE
SOME CREATIVE COLLABORATIONS between writer and illustrator are a natural fit from the beginning. One such partnership came to fruition close to home: Illustrator and Artist Soosan Joon Silanee and Mechanics of Style editor-in-chief Aaron Sigmond created the recently concluded 12-part MoS series “What’s Old Is New Again,” which ran for nearly two years. She drew. He wrote.
Mr. Sigmond and Ms. Silanee share a passion for fashion and heritage brands, not just as luxury wares but as true objets d’art — an interest that shone through in each installment of the series. “In many ways I wish ‘What’s Old Is New Again’ had never ended,” Mr. Sigmond says. “But all good things must, mustn’t they? Working with Soosan has been a privilege. I looked forward to each of her illustrations as a child would to receiving a birthday gift that he could in turn share with the world.” Ms. Silanee contributed other illustrations to Mechanics of Style as well, giving the digital journal a distinguished air. Not unlike the artist herself, her whimsical illustrations (watercolor and ink) are fun and sophisticated but highly approachable, offering a soft focus and a loose hand to each piece. “I’ve always valued my sketchbook most,” she says, “and believed there’s a space and appreciation for the rawness and honesty of my suggestive drawings.”
Mr. Sigmond is effusive. “Soosan captures luxury and fashion in a way I hadn’t seen since Jean-Philippe Delhommepainted his iconic Barneys New Yorkad campaign in the early ’90s,” he says. And so, in the perennially hip land of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, MoS sat down with Ms. Silanee to find out what makes her tick and what attracts her to luxury and fashion.
WHAT’S YOUR PERSONAL DEFINITION OF LUXURY?
A considered effortlessness with a premium sensory experience. The artisan is executing with the highest-crafted workmanship and most sought-after elements purely for the consumer’s enjoyment and self-discovery.
WHAT ATTRACTS YOU TO PAINTING LUXURY GOODS?
Their unmatched sophisticated beauty. I see these exquisite objects and wonder to myself, “Who are these geniuses behind this product?” I like to create an illustration with these objects, as if the consumer has put them to good use.
WHICH PART OF THE LUXURY WORLD FASCINATES YOU MOST?
The meticulous time, patience and ingenuity that go into creating excellence.
WHAT CHALLENGES YOU THE MOST WHEN TRYING TO CAPTURE SUCH OBJECTS IN WATERCOLOR?
Product details. The detailing with custom hardware, stitching and materials are where the real magic happens. I feel like a detective when commissioned — I do extensive research on imagery and the origins of the company, and visit shops where they carry the products for a close examination. My goal is to capture the brand and highlight the small, sometimes unnoticed details.
THE DELVAUX NEWSPAPER II BAG WAS YOUR FINAL PIECE FOR “WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN.” WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PIECE IN THE SERIES, AND YOUR LEAST? WHY?
My favorite piece? That’s a tough one. Every piece tells a different story. If I had to choose one favorite, it would be the Dunhill Unique Lighter. I love the color combination of the gold metal and green stingray, the realistic look — yet also its subtle quirks and slight imperfections. As for my least, I can’t answer that. Art is subjective, and although one piece may not be my favorite, it could easily be someone else’s. This is where I’d rather keep quiet and listen to the audience.