Yesterday, Tunisia celebrated 55 years of Independence from France, no doubt made sweeter by the recent triumph in toppling authoritarian president, Ben Ali, after 23 years in power. Rather than spend this post further commemorating this revolution (I'm sure several others have done this well so I would like to share something different), I would like to draw your attention to beauty and design.
Design director for French fashion house, Hermès, Leila Menchari, along with being a proclaimed citizen of the world, is a daughter of Tunisia. Famed for her poetic store window displays that fan the fires of dreamers, she is a recipient of the Golden Dido award, the highest distinction awarded to a woman in Tunisia, for her contribution to Tunisia 's cultural influence in the world. You can read more about her on The Polyglot, a "content driven site changing perceptions" about the Middle East and its Diaspora.
I discovered this Empire Design blog post that gives a peek into Menchari's beautiful home in Hammamet (photo at top and more via the link).
Also on the architectural design tip, I discovered the beautiful eco-retreat, Dar HI, pictured above. Check out the Interior Design Photo Magazine for more beautiful photographs of this desert oasis and the Dar HI website for even more pictures and information.
Fashion designer, Azzedine Alaia, is another child of Tunisia. He hustled his way into the École des Beaux-Arts in Tunis to study sculpture and, a move to Paris and a few years later, he took the international fashion world by storm. On Alaia:
"Designers nowadays do not create anything, they only make clothes so people and the press would talk about them.The real money for designers lie within perfumes and handbags. It is all about image. [Alaia] is smart enough to not only care about having people talk about him. He only holds fashion shows when he has something to show, on his own time frame."
— Catherine Lardeur, the former editor and chief of French Marie Claire in an interview with Crowd Magazine
Images: Menchari house photo (top) via Empire Design, Hermès window photo via The Style Pocketbook, Dar HI photo via Interior Design Photo Magazine, Alaia illustration via Paris Insiders.com, Alaia portrait via this site,