Stylish Sapeur: A Return to Elegance

[ Photos taken by Hector Mediavilla] I was ecstatic to find these wonderful photos of elegantly dressed older Congolese men. Their style of dress is called Sape from the french slang” dressing with class”. This is just too great not to share. I have imported an article from ZoneZero below. Make sure and CLICK HERE to see an amazing photo essay about sapeurs done by Hector Mediavilla, shown below.Excerpt from “

The arrival of the French to the Congo, at the beginning of the 20th Century, brought along the myth of Parisian elegance among theCongolese youth working for the colonialists. Many considered the white man to be superior because of their technology, sophistication and elegance. In 1922, G.A. Matsoua was the first–ever Congolese to return from Paris fully clad as an authentic French gentleman, which caused great uproar and much admiration amongst his fellow countrymen. He was the first Grand Sapeur.Respected and admired in their communities, today’s sapeurs see themselves as artists. Their refined manners and impeccable style in their attire bring a little glamour to their humble surroundings. Each one has his own repertoire of gestures that distinguishes him from the others. They are also after their own great dream: to travel to Paris and to return to Bacongo as lords of elegance.
What is Sape and who are the sapeurs?

is French slang for “dressing with class”. The French often use the expression “il est bien sape” to talk about a sharp dressed man. The term “sapeur” is a new African word that refers to someone that is dressed with great elegance.However, the Congolese sapeurs are not only concerned about elegance, but also with good manners, politeness and morality. Generally, they only dress up on weekends and special occasions. Designer brands of suits and accessories are a big deal to Sapeurs. Complete attire can cost up to 1500 euros, although ironically, many of them don have a job. To get the whole outfit that can get them the sought-after prestige can take several years. Most of them start up with suits borrowed from established sapeurs that initiate them in the secrets of the Sape.The Congolese Sape, except for very rare exceptions, is a man thing, which sometimes is inherited whereas most of the times is acquired by choice.