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From far away, the Acropolium in Carthage looks much like a castle on a hill.
Up close, it is just as imposing with high walls that overlook the city. Colorful frescoes and paintings decorate the interior walls. A long catwalk was set up for the event, lined with rows of delicate clear chairs. Ads for GOSH cosmetics and the luxury beauty
store Fatales hung from the walls, along with blurred photographs of dancers on a catwalks.
The first show began a fashionable one hour late. It featured the creation of students from the Institute of Fashion Style & Design (ISDM). It opened with a performance inspired by Black Swan. The ballerina performed various gymnastic feats up and down the catwalk before whipping off her black cape to reveal a short feathered ballet costume. The looks that followed kept the theme of ballet and birds, but introduced a Grecian elegance with long flowing skirts and gold breast and head-plates. The music was apocalyptic, contrasting the ethereal designs. Gold birdcages and wings decorated both long gowns and short business-like jackets paired with corsets, tutus and nude heels that mirrored the shade of ballet shoes. Several of the gowns featured bold, wing-like shoulder pads protruding from the jackets. One model sported a pair of wings and flashed an angelic smile to the crowd. The models' smokey black winged eye makeup echoed the dramatic music, popping out against the white ethereal theme.
Cork wedges, leg warmers and draping wool in green and mustard hues filled the second show, the work of the Higher Institute of Fashion Jobs of Monastir (ISMMM). The looks were animal themed, featuring textured leather and earthy colors. One model peered through a screen of wool strands as she stalked down the runway. The models stared fiercely at the crowd from under their top lids - covered in shimmery green and echoed with upside-down gold triangles below their lashes. Next came "geek chic" outfits set to punky music. The androgynous looks featured white and grey pajama-style suits with oversize pants and nightgown shirts accessorized with with lime green briefcases, creepers and tennis shoes. Mesh, net and zippers decorated the designs. Then the mood shifted. The music became softer, with a pulsing beat, as models in black dresses stepped onto the catwalk. The simple gowns were decorated with neon cords that were wrapped and draped, and coiled into circular patterns in the back. One model wore a complicated choker made of the bright strands. Both of these second themes recalled 90s pop culture and its obsession with neon lights, tennis shoes and baggy trousers.
The International Lasalle College in Tunis presented at the end of the night. Their designs were futuristic, with a flower theme and bright colors. After the show, the young design students from College Lasalle discussed the inspiration for their collection with Tunisia Live. The jasmine flower - its history and its femininity- was the inspiration for their draping, colorful dresses. The stem of the flower, its delicate beauty and bright fragrance could be seen in the designs - one skirt was made entirely of flower stems that curved in before sprouting out, forming a perfect bell shape. Flowers protruded from one dress, in the flower stem patterns, and in the pink bow on another that shouted the arrival of spring with its bright hue.
In between shows, lounge music kept the sartorial guests company. Pink, red and blue lights glowed on the clear chairs, that brought to mind Cinderella's glass slipper. An eclectic crowd occupied the front row - a veiled woman wearing a dress-suit sat next to a young girl in soft hues of forest green and peach. To their right, a young man sported an edgier look with a backwards cap and graphic t-shirt. The seats closest to the start of the catwalk were reserved for journalists from Elle, Middle East Fashion, and Now Fashion, amongst other media sources.
Sitting in the front row, young fashion blogger and law student from Côte d'Ivoire Louis Philippe de Gagoue's nine-inch platform brogues and crossed salmon pink skinny-clad legs provided a sharp contrast with the bright white catwalk. A casually held Yashica film camera with mounted flash completed his look.
"I didn't see anything wow today," he said, speaking of the opening show. As Gagoue spoke, his soft purple paisley dress shirt poked out of an oversized camel V-fringe suede jacket. When asked what his favorite collection was, de Gagoue answered with no hesitation - "ISMM" - the Higher Institute of Fashion Jobs of Monastir. What he liked best was the sport-chic feel of some of the looks. The models in this collection all sported white and lime creeper sneakers - almost rivaling de Gagoue's own footwear.
An organizer concluded the opening day of the show with a shout of, "Until tomorrow Tunisia!" This met with a resounding applause from the audience. Who knows what the next days will bring? The first day of Tunis Fashion Week showcased talent from all over Africa. Tonight, we will expect no less, as fashionistas can look forward to seeing the trendy ethnic designs of Salah Barka parading down the runway. Emerging talents like As de Trèfle, a trio freshly graduated from Esmod Tunis, promise to deliver new and upcoming sartorial surprises at tonight's show.
We'll see you there! Come dressed to impressed- our cameras will be watching. Or follow our live tweets and livestreamthroughout the show.
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