Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Gentlemen of Congo (Les Sapeurs)

I have today decided to blog about a movement, a club, a prestigious society of men in Africa, who have dedicated their lives to dressing well, stylish and elegant. Paying great attention to colour, details of the accessories, shoes on so forth. True Beau Brummels in one of the worlds poorest country, the Congo.

It is very inspiring to see a movement, "an exclusive club" that has inspired some of the worlds most influential fashion designers, to borrow from the "La Sape", the colour combinations, style and elegance into their designs.  

The La Sape - Exclusive Club. A club for the descerning few.

Beau Brummel would certainly want to be a member of this very exclusive club.

Quote from a book about the movement:
"La Sape" started in Congo Brazzaville in Bacongo neighborhood,  the real cradle of Sape, the 'religion of clothing' ". Apparently many of the Sapeurs 'fantasise about walking the streets of Paris or Brussels - places most can only dream of visiting - returning to Brazzaville as sartorial aristocrats of ultimate elegance."

"In 1922, G. A. Matsoua was the first-ever Congolese to return from Paris fully clad as an authentic French gentleman, which caused great uproar and much admiration amongst his fellow countrymen. He was the first Grand Sapeur. The Sapeurs today belong to 'Le SAPE' (Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes) - one of the world's most exclusive clubs. Members have their own code of honour, codes of professional conduct and strict notions of morality. It is a world within a world within a city. Respected and admired in their communities, today's sapeurs see themselves as artists. Each one has his own repertoire of gestures that distinguishes him from the others".

A true Dandy, dressed to kill in a pink suit, tie, bowler hat, pocket square.

A Dandy gathering, heading for the annual meeting? Maybe 

Dandies, crossed legs in full amour

Red suit, crisp white shirt, striped tie, braces & a pocket square

 Sitted Dandy, in striped suit, crisp white shirt, tie, hat & a pocket square

 Dandies showing off their socks & posing dandies

Posing Bakongo Gents

 Dandy taking a stroll in a blazer, empeccably dressed as a dandy should

 Heading for the Boulevard Sir? Forgot your walking cane

 Dandy smoking cigar
 Posing Bakongo Gent

Bakongo Gent taking a walk with offspring

 Bakongo Gents in green and off white suits

The cuff lengths (jacket &shirt) so perfect. Colour palette inviting.
 Dandy in green trousers.

Le Sape gathering in the Exclusive Club, below
Members have their own code of honour, codes of professional conduct and strict notions of morality:
1. A Congolese Sapeur is a happy man even if he does not eat, because wearing proper clothes feeds the soul and gives pleasure to the body.
2. A real Sapeur needs to be cultivated and speak fluently, but also have a solid moral ethic: that means beyond the appearance and vanity of smart, expensive clothing there is the moral nobility of the individual.
3. When the Sapeur expresses himself through the harmony of his clothes, he is returning his admiration to God.
4. A Sapeur does not shed blood. Your clothes do all the fighting for you, otherwise you are not fit to be called a Sapeur.

Initiation time into the Exclusive Club. One of my favourite pictures. Love the colour of the mustard suit combined with the full brogue correspondance shoes. These gents wear their outfit with grace and elegance unmatched. Each Gent has a personal touch, showing great attendance to details. This is style and not fashion. As style & elegance remains whilst fashion is long gone and forgotten.

La Sape movement enters the streets of high fashion

Fashion designers copying & bringing the Bakongo "Les Sapeurs" dressing into the high streets of fashion and glamour . Here an interpretation by well known fashion designer.
 La Sape inspires fashion designer directly

Was Andre3000 in Bakongo and got inspired. Is he a member? We will never know.

Some people say he is an honourable member of the club, is he?
Well, he has the posture, elegancy, style. He is holding a trial membership card, or is it?

Information sourced from here: Le Sapeurs-of-bakongo.html
Photos sourced from the Internet based on the book by Daniele Tamagni

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