The Gentlemen of Bakongo And Their Cult Of Elegance

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Ever heard of a religion of clothing? Well let us introduce you to Le Sap – The society for people of elegance and ambiance in the Congo and the inspiration of Italian photographer Daniele Tamagni’s book: The Gentlemen of Bakongo – The Importance of Being Elegant… The Gentlemen of Bakongo_01 The Gentlemen of Bakongo_02 The Gentlemen of Bakongo_03 The Gentlemen of Bakongo_04

Self-confessed dandies, Le Sapeurs, have taken the genteel art of dressing to its illogical conclusion. This particular group of sapeurs enjoy a style whose roots lie in salons of Paris of the twenties but is accomplished in tones bright enough to make one’s eyes smart. Indeed, the aforementioned, Sapologists, knowingly juxtapose symbols of glut, more in common with a seventies black Chicago pimp, against their impoverished shanty towns with astounding aplomb- spending a lot more money on their clothing than on their homes.

“To go to Paris- the capital of fashion – is historically the dream of a Sapeur,” informs Tamagni. “ This is where they would all like to go one day. Some succeed in obtaining a visa but for others it remains an improbable ideal. Sapeurs all have the same dream: to go to Paris and return to Brazzaville as an aristocrat of ultimate elegance.”

“The white man might have invented clothes,” concludes Brazzaville Congolese musician King Kester Emeneya modestly. “But we have turned it into an art.”

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