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Souani / Lorenzy-Palanca


Circa 1925
8 1/2'' x 8''

Souani is a municipality of Tlemcen province in Algeria, sharing a border with Morocco, and was a popular tourist spot for French settlers in the first and second quarters of the 20th Century. As a French colony, Algeria was a primary focus of French orientalism, much in the way India mesmerized the British, and made it the perfect exotic postcard image for a new fragrance.

Souani was one in a series of fragrances from Lorenzy-Palanca that utilized the same scalloped label die. While these labels share a frame, they are very different from one another, each depicting a different postwar fantasy world. Here, we're allowed a peek at an exotic woman lounging on her coastal terrace.

While named for Souani, the label most resembles Algiers, which shares many of the elements shown here (Lorenzy-Palance had offices there as well.) The building surrounded by cypresses in the middle ground, for example, appears to be Notre Dame d'Afrique, one of Algiers' main attractions. Tlemcen was, however, considered more cosmopolitan than rough-and-tumble Algiers, which made the Souani name a better choice.

There is a strong sense of mystery and temptation here, as if we are in the presence of Salomé herself, a inkling advanced by the magical lettering formed by the smoke from a censer. It all plays into a general theme of indolence and debauchery well-sited in orientalist images. This colonialist worldview is also consistent with the habit of using European models in ethnic clothing, rather than depicting an African herself.

Lorenzy-Palance was based in Marseilles and produced a full range of personal products until its bankruptcy in 1930. At its height, the firm had locations in Nice, Toulon, Oran, and Algiers.



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