When the invitation to attend Tunis Fashion Week landed on my desk, I must admit my surprise and intrigue. Tunisia had never really been on my radar as a fashion destination, but like most Europeans, my own knowledge of the country was very limited. When a Tunisian man on my flight had asked me how I imagined the country to be, I erroneously blurted out a clichéd assumption based upon the only other North Saharan country I had been to—Morocco. I could tell from his reaction that he vehemently disagreed, but he tried to be polite anyway. When I revisited this encounter some days later, after having experienced some of Tunisia, I felt utterly embarrassed for my own myopic point of view, shrouded in western prejudices. It was a humbling moment.
Counter to my misconceptions of the country, I discovered a forward looking, creative and optimistic place. I met openly queer individuals, saw girls kissing on the dance floor, and encountered brilliant collections that would rival many European counterparts. I couldn’t help but be stunned and enamoured by it all. Tunisia was much more open-minded than I had imagined, more fun than I could have anticipated, and as creative a place as you could find.
During the trip, we had the opportunity to shoot an editorial with local models and mainly local designers against the backdrop of Dar Hi Life—a beautiful boutique design hotel designed by French industrial designer Matali Crasset. Not only did I get to witness the creativity coming out of Tunisia, I got to immerse and interact with it. This was certainly the highlight of the trip.
I left Tunisia after one week with the urge to come back, to dive deeper, and hopefully uncover many more of the worthwhile stories to tell.
Photography & Art Direction – Frederike Wetzels
Styling – Sabine Berlipp
Production – Arne Eberle
Hair & Make-up – Farah Zine El Abidine
Models – Yassin Walhezi, Achwek Arfaoui, Yassin Nabga, Zohra Gharbi, Raniia Hanchii
Location – Dar Hi Life