06/08/2012 05:41 EDT | Updated 08/08/2012 05:12 EDT

There Are a Lot More than Tunics at this Tunisian Fashion Show!

Guess where the Fashion Week has been lately? To church.

For the second consecutive year, Tunis's historic Acropolium de Carthage has been the theatre of a week's worth of fashion extravaganza and talent. Attracting style aficionados of all ages, sexes and fashion orientations as well as local and international press, the 4th edition of Fashion Week Tunis 2012 (FWT) is still the talk of the town in now-oh-so-famous Tunisia.

As well as showcasing the works of students from local schools, accessories and prêt-à-porter, and haute couture designers, this year's shows included Salah Barka (Tunisia), Laurence André (France), Safi Rebah (Tunisia), Leila Dali Bouricha (Tunisia), As de Trèfle (Tunisia), Ali Karoui (Tunisia), Rayhana (Tunisia), Arrey Kono (Camero0n - Germany), Seyf Dean Laouiti (Tunisia), Amine Bendriouich (Morocco), Ahmed Talfit (Tunisia), Laure Kczekotowska (France), Chouchic Design (Syria), and Soucha Mlihigue (Tunisia).

I wasn't lucky enough to be able to attend all the shows, but let me introduce you to at least three of my all-time favourites: Salah Barka, whose brand Oshy we already told you about here, Amine Bendriouich, who I met a few years ago in Morocco, and Ahmed Talfit, Lancôme face Hanaa Ben Abdesslem's protégé.

It's funny; when I think about it, these three actually constitute a bunch apart from the other designers present at the 2012 FWT. Their pieces distinctly stood out from the nonetheless interesting crowd of designers showcased, and seemed to be echoing one another.

Indeed, if I were to pin-point a distinct theme after seeing the works of Salah, Amine and Ahmed, it would have to be identity and gender equality. Hmmm. Sounds like the beginning of the title of an essay an arts student might envisage to write about 19th century visual arts. Still, even though explored in very different creative ways by our three young artists, gender considerations and that of nudity and religion definitely stole the show at the FWT.

While Amine Bendriouich imagines clothes fitted for both men and women, both he and Salah Barka pick up on the traditional Maghrebian "saroual" and spank it up with a sleek city (rather than urban) edge.

Salah had a spartan twist (naked male chests dressed with copper bulk jewellery makes it all the more interesting). As for Amine, his refreshingly enthusiastic proposition of comfortable city-style (cotton shorts and jackets, pastel colours, cheeky cuffs, airy dresses) is here positively challenged by a redefinition of gender-forced sartorial habits and dictates (who said men don't wear dresses?).

Meanwhile, Ahmed Talfit's very chic evening dresses elegantly rubbed along with glass-encrusted and sharply-cut leather pieces, worn by half-naked models wearing the veil -- or a glamorously jewelled-up version of the niqab. Clearly a statement.

Great stuff overall.

And guess what? Elle Magazine and NowFashion were here, as well as Sofia Guellaty, the Editor-In-Chief of Masquerade Magazine (MSQRD), and co-founder of Unfair Magazine. Pssst...rumor has it she was the first Arab The Sartorialist actually snapped. Yep. And she's Tunisian.

Fashion Week Tunis 2012