S.A.P.E. Society of Ambianceurs and Elegant People

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 colonisers. At that time, many considered white men to be superior, due to their sophistication and elegance. 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. Each of them is unique, each possessing a particular and individualised repertoire of gestures.

They all share the same dream: to go to Paris and return to Brazzaville as the ambassadors of supreme elegance.



EXPERIMENTAL DOCUMENTARY FILM made in 2006 to support a solo exhibition