WE LOVE LES SAPEURS but who are they?

January 24th, 2014 5:24 pm


Les Sapeurs, also known as The Society of Atmosphere-setters and Elegant People, are a group of men who live by a moral code where style and attitude counts over occupation or wealth.  The clique is made up of blue-collar workers who dedicate their off time to dressing in colourful and dapper fashion.

Situated within Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, this group of men turn the art of dressing in to a cultural statement.

Recently paid homage to in the new Guinness campaign, directed by documentary filmmaker Hector Mediavilla as well as Solange Knowles ‘Losing you’ music video, the Sapeurs look set to launch from beyond the Congo to screens across the world.

This sub culture emerged in the early 20th century when Brazzaville became a hot spot for Africans flying to Paris and returning with European style clothing. Papa Wemba, a famous singer has been credited with popularising this dashing look with his rumba group ‘viva la musica.’ Visually challenging and rebelling against the strict non-western dress code enforced shortly after independence, he created the acronym La sape, with its followers ‘Les sapeurs.’

This sense of style is flamboyant, polished and impeccable; paying close attention to detail and style. European-style suits tailored to fit, complemented by pocket squares , textured ties and bow ties, accessorized with pipes, walking sticks and bowler hats. It’s rare to see a gentleman without a designer label with Suits by Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier and Armani all in demand.

Against a back drop of war and poverty, they stand out, but with dressing with such style, detail and flair, there is a strict behavioural attitude that comes with being labelled a Sapeur.

“The Sapeur is a model of gentlemanly behaviour and mannerisms; it’s also the language he uses, the way he walks. How you treat people is very important. For a man to be a Sapeur he must be gentle, he must not be aggressive, he must be against war, he must be calm tempered.” Quoted by Hector Mediavilla

And we think they look fab !!


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© Anne Kroul, 2013.