Posts tagged: Congo Brazzaville

Les Sapeurs

By , September 7, 2009 10:10 pm

Papa WembaShowmen to the last, Les Sapeurs have taken the genteel art of dressing to Gentlemen of Bakongoits illogical conclusion by adhering to the discipline known as La SapeThe Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes translated (the Society of Revelers and Elegant People)- otherwise referred to as the ‘religion of clothing’. Colonies of  La Sape exist in Kinshasa, Paris, Brussels and London and follow the example of Congolese rumba singer Papa Wemba (top left wearing a Cavalli fur coat on stage) the movements sartorial leader. The Sapeurs of  Congo Brazzaville and Congo enjoy a style rooted in the salons of Paris in 1920s, they wear designers like Cavalli, Versace, Gautier, Burberry,Comme de Garçons, Yamamoto, Miyake, Watanabe, Paul Gaultier and a lot more, yet choosing colours bright enough to stop traffic. Their armaments are hats, waist coats, scarfs, gloves and even a pair of braces, not to forget stylish shoes sunglasses and the odd cigar or pipe. Congolese immigrants  fascinated with the french style decided to imitate it, a number of them subscribe to Amicale, a pseudo religion founded by Congolese intellectual, Andre Grenard Matsoua, he returned from Paris in 1922 dressed in the fashion of the day and caused an uproar and a lot of admiration, he was known as the first Grand Sapeur, he struggled for human rights and freedom from colonial powers and as such achieved notoriety as a revolutionary, prophet and national hero.  I have always admired their ingenuity and indeed had they been of a different time and place  (not a country in transition) they will have been better acknowledged as style vanguard’s and artisans of a very unique craft ” the art of dressing in collage”.

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