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Q&A with Anissa of ANISSA AIDA

Raised in Paris and Tunisia, emerging designer Anissa Meddeb creates clothing and accessories inspired by the intersection of North African culture and Eastern aesthetics. She launched ANISSA AIDA in 2016, and is making waves in Tunisia, Europe, and now the US.

What is ANISSA AIDA…?
ANISSA AIDA…is a high-end womens ready-to-wear fashion design and accessories label that produces collections that illustrate the interaction between clothes and cultures, creating a language that reflects both traditions and modernity. Each piece is derived from a foundational concept. The pieces are unique but wearable by bringing a touch of creativity to the life of a modern woman.

How are your products made?
They are designed and developed in my studio in New York, and then produced in an atelier in Tunisia. Tunisia is known within the textile industry for the quality of its apparel production. In addition, I’ve developed collaborations with artisans to preserve precious savoir-faire, such as weaving silk by hand, or shoe making, where I worked with Souheil Fitouri.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I always find inspiration from traditional garments from different countries. For instance, I come from North Africa, so I look at a lot of traditional kaftans, djellabas, and sarouel pants. Traditional Tunisian clothing is very architectural and modern looking, and an endless inspiration for me. I like to mix them with eastern sartorial elements to create something new, peaceful, and unexpected.

ANISSA AIDA at the Finale of the spring summer 2017 runway show at the Freemason’s Hall with Fashion Scout. (Image: Simon Armstrong)

What are specific Tunisian references in your clothing?
Stripes, which are commonly used for the traditional fadhila shirts, and the Tunisia collar, have become signatures of my designs. For my first collection, the color palette of shades of blues and white was not only inspired by the Mediterranean colors, but also by the village of Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia.

Your design ethos?
Passion, curiosity, and perseverance.

Fisherman in La Goulette. (Image: Anissa Meddeb)

What inspired you to start your business?
A year after graduating from Parsons, and having worked for New York-based labels ThreeAsFour and Outdoor Voices, I met with Lamia Ben Ayed, creative director and founder of Musk and Amber Gallery in Tunis. She was drawn to my design philosophy and offered me to design and present a capsule collection exclusively for her cutting-edge design space. Interfaces: a visual dialogue was presented in Tunis in March 2016, which marks the beginning of my brand’s journey.

What does Tunisia mean to you?
My roots. It is a country where people have a natural kindness, a sense of hospitality, and are tolerant.

Traditional blue door in the medina of Tunis. (Image: Anissa Meddeb)

What do you wish the world knew about Tunisia?
I wish people knew that Tunisia is a result of a mosaic of cultures, and despite events that happened after the Arab Spring, Tunisia remains above all a country of tolerance and peace.

What is one thing every visitor to Tunisia should experience?
The Roman mosaics of the Bardo museum.

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