View Full Version : Cult Of Elegance

Dr. Socially Liberal Fiscally Conservative Vermin
5th November 13, 07:09 AM

“It is our way of life and not just the dressing,” he continues. “ It is how we express our individuality and our character. Along with our families, Le Sap, is our reason for being.”
Cavory is part of a group of ‘sapeurs’ who emanate from, Brazzaville, the capital of The Republic of The Congo (AKA The French Congo or Congo- Brazzaville) and are the subject of a new, mainly photographic tome, The Gentlemen of Bakongo (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gentlemen-Bacongo-Daniele-Tamagni/dp/190456383X) – The Importance of Being Elegant, by Italian snapper Daniele Tamagni.
A wonderful pictorial essay realised in vivid colour, the book captures the spirit, joie de vivre and creed of Le Sapeur who, with their strict code of honour, conduct and morality, enjoy a style that is certainly not lacking in eccentricity. But, when etched against the backdrop of a country torn apart throughout the 1990s by bloody civil wars which resulted in thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths, is positively more than a little surreal.
“I found these guys after going on another job to Brazzaville,’ explains Tamagni on the phone from Milan. “I met one took his picture then another and soon I met them all. They are not rich men, are very democratic and amazed me by their manners, elegance and attention to detail that provides such a contrast with their shantytown which has been bombed to pieces. And like a lot of African villages is really very dirty, very messy and very haphazard. But they are normal people – anyone can be a sapeur, no one is excluded.”
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.
Indeed, many sapeurs, such as KVV Mouzieto (who works on the Paris Metro but comes back to Brazzaville every summer) believe in the “Matsoua” religion that instigated by Congolese intellectual, Andre Grenard Matsou -who lived for a period in Paris and worked for the French army- lies at the core of Le Sape. A man with a mission, Matsou fought for human rights and freedom from the colonial powers and as such achieved fame as a revolutionary, prophet and consequently- a national hero. Known as the first ‘Grand Sapeur’, he was said to have returned from Paris in 1922 and, as the first Congolese to dress as an authentic Frenchman and not in trad African robes, initially caused indescribable uproar among his fellow countrymen followed by subsequent admiration.
Undeniably, Le Sapeur lives by commonly agreed aesthetic regulations. “A good Sapeur has to know the rules of harmoniously matched colours without being excessive,” attests Tamagni. “ Their idea of perfection is to combine a maximum of three colours for each outfit. It is important to distinguish between the gentlemen who can wear colourful clothing. Diplomat (usually a politician, an ambassador, a television journalist). The latter has to combine dark tonalities in the choice of socks, shoes, trousers, jacket, shirt, tie and so on, which means different nuances of blue tones, or grey or black. He is obliged to wear specific kinds of clothes and with more conventional colours. The Gentleman is an artist and can wear both conventional and fancy, vivid clothing. In any case eccentricity should never overcome the principles of elegance, according to the Sape. A sense of measure and a good culture is always required.”
“The white man might have invented clothes,” concludes Brazzaville Congolese musician King Kester Emeneya modestly. “But we have turned it into an art.”


Full Sabotage Times article (http://sabotagetimes.com/fashion-style/the-gentlemen-of-bakongo-and-their-cult-of-elegance/)

Well worth reading the whole article if you have the time/inclination. I'm increasing becomming interested in good suit, tie combinations personally.

5th November 13, 04:04 PM
Makes a certain kind of sense. No point in a large investment in your home when it gets destroyed every few years. These guys seem to have a code of honour and sense of self worth in an area where both are probably rare.