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The Gentlemen of Bacongo Sapeurs Of Congo Street Style

Everytime the ‘Gentlemen of Bacongo‘ photographic exhibition came to London, I always managed to miss it, so whilst I was in Dakar I finally got to see some images from book of the Sapeurs of Congo; on display as part of a wider exhibition on contemporary African photography entitled ‘Africa See You See Me’, that was being held at the Goethe Institute, during the Dak’art 2012 Biennale. Since its release in 2009, the book about the Sapeurs of Congo and accompanying exhibition has delighted and captivated audiences across the world, taking them on a fashionable journey through the streets of Bacongo, Brazzville courtesy of the unique and immaculately dressed Sapeurs of Congo, whose colourful and flamboyant yet elegantly stylish dress sense has spread beyond the borders of Bacongo to other local and international areas that include Kinshasa, London, Paris and Brussels.
[Image credit: Gentlemen of Bacongo – Daniele Tamagni]

To say the Sapeurs of Congo are passionate about clothing would be an understatement; belonging to their exclusive club, La SAPE, ‘Le Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes’; comes at a hefty price, with discerning fashion houses including Armani, Yves Saint Laurent and Jean Paul Gaultier being the suits of choice, reputations are said to be staked on designer brand labels, imitations just won’t do, and that includes the accessories. Once dressed in their finery informal contests are held as the Sapeurs of Brazzaville go head to head in a bid to ‘out ‘Sap’ each other!’.