La Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes

While you should check out all of the winners of the World Press Photo contest of 2010, there is one series that struck me. Second prize winner for stories in Arts & Entertainment, Francesco Glusti of Italy shed light on a prestigious community of fashionable go-getters…. in the Congo! J’aimerais vous présenter La Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élegantes (SAPE).

These gentlemen travel to Paris to inaugurate their careers in this “Society of Entertainers and Elegant People” by purchasing very expensive, haute couture from D&G to Dior. Coming from the very colorful African culture, naturally they choose exceptionally bright colors (and of course pair them with OTHER exceptionally bright colors). When they return home, they rent their purchases out (about 25$ a day for a suit), or sell them for a small profit to recuperate some of the costs.

But before they do that, they flaunt.

Not in total liberty though. This is a sophisticated society after all, and what’s a club without it’s rules.

“Les plus grands sapeurs ainsi que les « Sapologues » les plus avisés s’accordent à dire que des codes très stricts régissent cet art du XXe siècle.

  1. Rester élégant dans la sobriété, ce qui veut dire ne pas assembler plus de deux couleurs dans une même tenue (chaussettes comprises)
  2. Ne jamais exhiber les marques et savoir se montrer réservé et modeste quant aux prix dépensés dans ces vêtements de qualité
  3. Toujours arborer une attitude discrète et modérée dans les lieux publiques
  4. Toujours marcher droit et dignement, avec retenue, tels les aristocrates français du XVIe arrondissement, inspiration majeure de ce mouvement”

(The greatest sapeurs and “Sapologues” agree to say that very strict codes govern this art of the 20th century.

  1. Stay elegant in the sobriety, that means assembling no more than two colors in the same outfit (including shoes).
  2. Never show the labels and know how to be reserved and show modesty in regards to the price of these clothes of quality.
  3. Always have a discreet and moderated attitude in public.
  4. Always walk with dignity, with restraint, such as the French aristocrats of the 16th district (in Paris), the major inspiration of this movement.)

It’s a tough love, being a sapeur. With such marginal profit, it doesn’t put you at the top of the food chain that’s for sure. But believe me they are the “dappest” of the dapper gentlemen in all of their country, and not a lot of people can say that!


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