'Gentlemen of Bacongo' by Daniele Tamagni showcases Congolese men adherent of La Sape

A Black Congolese man wearing sunglasses and smoking a cigar. He is wearing a suit (mostly out of shot)

Gentlemen of Bacongo is a photobook by Daniele Tamagni showcases the dapper styles of Congolese men who are part of La Sape subculture:

Daniele Tamagni’s wonderful pictorial essay brilliantly manages to capture the ebullience of sapeur culture at its source in Bacongo, a sprawling suburb of Brazzaville in The Congo. Le Sape (The Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes), is one of the world’s most exclusive clubs. It has recently become an international phenomenon with branches in places like Brazzaville, Kinshasa, Paris, Brussels and parts of South London. The sapeur style and relationship to clothes is unique – a throwback to a lost world of pre-colonial elegance and decadence and at the same time it is futuristic. Members have their own code of honour, codes of professional conduct and strict notions of morality.

Having been published in 2009, we’ve seen a few more appearances from sapeurs in pop culture, such as:

  • Sapeurs in music videos for Solange’s ‘Losing You’ (2012), Maître Gims’s ‘Sapés comme jamais’, (2015) and Kendrick Lamar’s ‘All The Stars’ (2018)
  • Sapeurs featured in the 2014 film 35 Cows and a Kalashnikov

You can get a copy on Amazon, Abe Books, and Biblio.

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