The fancy gentlemen from the Congo

Gentlemen of Bacongo is a book of photography by Daniele Tamagni documenting a group of men from the Congo who dress in designer suits. Meet Le Sapeurs.

Daniele Tamagni

Photographer Daniele Tamagni’s new book Gentlemen of Bacongo captures the fascinating subculture of the Congo in which men (and a few women) dress in designer and handmade suits and other luxury items. The movement, called Le Sape, combines French styles from their colonial roots and the individual’s (often flamboyant) style. Le Sapeurs, as they’re called, wear pink suits and D&G belts while living in the slums of this coastal African region.

In interviews with some notable sapeurs, Tamagni unearths the complex and varied rules and standards of Le Sape, short for Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes, or the Society of Tastemakers and Elegant People. Sapeur Michel comments on the strange combination of poverty and fashion, “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.”

Solange Knowles recently shot Losing You in South Africa and it features many gentlemen of Le Sape. Tamagni went along as an advisor and photographed Solange along the way. (via @youngna)

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