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Published : 15 July 2013
160 pages
N° ISBN : 978-2-916355-72-6



Society of Atmosphere setters and Elegant People

The S.A.P.E. is a fashion and cultural phenomenon inspired by the dandies that appeared in Congo during its colonization by the French. Congolese maintain today this myth of Parisian sophistication by wearing their finery and scrolling elegantly dressed in the streets of Brazzaville. Respected by their community, they gather around shared values and tastes, working to improve their style, their gestures in order achieve originality and distinction. In doing so, they pursue a dream: to travel to Paris and return to Brazzaville as ambassadors of elegance.

At the start of the 20th century when the French arrived in the Congo, the myth of Parisian elegance was born among the youth of the Bakongo ethnic group, who were working for the colonizers. In 1922, Grenard André Matsoua was the first Congolese man ever to come back from Paris dressed as a genuine Frenchman. His arrival caused great admiration among his fellow countrymen; he became known as the first Grand Sapeur. Supported by the respect and admiration of their community, today’s Sapeurs consider themselves artists. They add a touch of glamour to their humble environment through their refined manners and impeccable dressing styles.