A new photo book by Daniele Tamagni explores the phenomenon of the African sapeurs, a clique of extraordinarily dressed dandies from the Congo. In the midst of war and abject poverty, these men dress in tailored suits, silk ties, and immaculate footwear.
Sapeur comes from la SAPE, short for Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes, or the Society of Tastemakers and Elegant People. The SAPE, like any club, has rules of conduct and of dress; it’s centered around Brazzaville and Kinshasa, the adjacent capitals of the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, respectively.
This isn’t a new subculture: the style of dress which the sapeurs imitate is that of the French and Belgian colonists who seized control over the Congo during the 1880s.
Interesting to see where Paul Smith took his inspiration for his Women Spring 2010 in London