This colourful book takes you to the streets of Bacongo, a district area in Brazzaville where the elegant sapeurs show off their suits with style and a touch of extravagance. They belong to a very important club: The Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (The society for the advancement of people of elegance) which now has among its adepts also a few women.
This movement started when in the 70's the first Congolese people, who had migrated to Europe, came back to Congo with designer clothes. Many were fascinated with French fashion and started to emulate the French style, reinterpreting it according to their particular taste... The cult of elegance which has emerged from it appears in all his glory in the pages of this photographic book.
The sapeurs parade on the animated catwalks of the streets of Bacongo wearing kilts or pinstripe suits. They pose with unlighted cigars while children stare at them... with little markets and hanging clothes in the background. The contrast between the setting and the clothes of the sapeurs portrayed on this book will impress you for sure. What I loved most is how Davide Tamagni managed to capture this contrast without irony, but providing us a glimpse of the lives of the serious and proud sapeurs of Bacongo... they might appear frivolous like fashion can be, inspiring like art definitely is, funny like caricatures are but certanly worth to be admired in their multi-coloured outfits.
If you are interested in knowing more, I highly recommend also the chapter dedicated to "les sapeurs" on Michela Wrong's "In The Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz".
It's a shame, I expected it to be better. It has a great subject matter but instead of understanding the characters the author decides to do what style magazines do, talk only about their clothes and aesthetics. Some photos are good, but I haven't been blown away.
Also I was very unhappy with the seller. I contacted them to see if I could change it, as it was a present, but they didn't even bother to answer my query.