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Global Designer Spotlight: Salah Barka from Tunis, Tunisia


Salah Barka

Salah Barka

(slideshow)

Former model, costume designer and now fashion designer, Salah Barka, sits down with us and chats over coffee about the Tunisian fashion world and his new line Oshy by Salah Barka.

By: Amel Gaaloul and Moez Achour

Tunis, Tunisia

 

Moez and I didn’t personally know Salah until recently, but we had caught sight of him many times, whether on advertising film sets or while exploring Tunis’ night life. Because Tunis is so small, as are the worlds of fashion, film, advertising, and TV production here, you always seem to come across familiar faces, and find links with people you had never met before. This very peculiar microcosm-like environment has the advantage to make networking easier than in other capital cities.

 

Oshy by Salah Barka

Oshy by Salah Barka

 

 

Fashion Designer Salah Barka is one of those people who, when you first meet them, strikes you with their genuine kindness and attention. His tall, elegant, and colorful allure, and the ease with which he seems to fit into any crowd, tends to  mislead those who don’t know him. The aura he gives off confers the impression that he is inaccessible, when in fact, his generosity and delicacy quickly become manifest once you’ve gotten a chance to speak with him.

 

We had agreed to meet in his favorite café, the Maxim’s, in one of Tunis’ residential districts. Despite the rainy weather, his dark skin, dressed in vibrant shades of green and orange, combined with his huge white smile, enlightened mine and Moez’s afternoon.

 

Oshy by Salah Barka

Oshy by Salah Barka

 

We long spoke about street-fashion in Tunisia, and all agreed on the impression that people here tend to take few risks as far as their clothing and style habits are concerned. Tunisians are perceived as being conformist, and mainstream fashion and tastes are largely influenced by the West. International brands and retailers have in fact met great success on the local market so far.

 

It is difficult for young fashion designers, such as Salah, to exist in such an environment. And very few opportunities offer themselves to stylists to truly emerge, whether locally or internationally.

 

Oshy by Salah Barka

Oshy by Salah Barka

 

Salah, who started his career in fashion as a model, works in cinema and advertising as a costume designer, and has recently created his own prêt-à-porter brand: Oshy by Salah Barka. The self-taught designer was happy to announce Moez and I that he was in the middle of creating his own studio, where he was hoping to fully immerse in the preparation of his next collection he is hoping will be exposed at Tunisia’s unique outlet for young fashion designers: Sisi Store, in Carthage.

 

Very attentive to international but also local trends in clothing and style, Salah draws his inspiration from the streets and everyday life in Tunisia. Although he specializes in men’s wear, he likes to think of his pieces as being unisex, and free of gender considerations, just like the work of his favorite designer: Jean-Paul Gaultier. What mostly distinguishes Salah’s work is its narrative dimension, with a harmonious mix of ethnic looks, combined with discreet references to the 40s, 50s, and the beginning of the 20th century – a very unique and enthusiastic vision that celebrates Tunisia’s cultural heritage and diversity.

 

Find Oshy by Salah Barka on Facebook

 

Photography of Salah Barka by Rim Temimi

Collection photographs courtesy of Salah Barka

 

 

*British-Tunisian born Amel has lived in Tunis for 5 years, where she works in advertising as well as a freelance editor for www.tunisia-live.net. Together with Artistic Director and blogger, Moez Achour, (www.fashionplaylist.com), they like to wander around Tunis in the search of inspiring places and people that make up the new Tunisian scene. 


 

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