Monday, November 22, 2010

SAPE: A beacon of identity for a country in crisis

There is SAPE only when there is peace -- a sentiment expressed by those who understand the nature and importance of the art form known as SAPE: La Société des Ambianceurs et Persons Élégants.

In the 1920s a Congolese man returned from a visit to Paris dressed in French style high fashion. What he didn't know then that we know now is that his bold style of dress would hit a chord with his countrymen and flourish into an art form practiced throughout the country. Sapeurs, as they are referred, express ideas that any meaningful artist might - resistance, individualism and human bonds that connect us all - through simple observation by others in their neighborhoods, at parties and funerals, and are proving to be a powerful catalyst for hope.

Although the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world is ongoing in the Congo, emerging artists and art forms are thought to be a natural extension of  society's reaction to the end of wartimes or other violent, painful and otherwise stressful periods. So, perhaps with the case of SAPE, the Society for the Advancement of People of Elegance, in the Congo, the movement is more like a plea for peace rather than the result of it.

In these wonderfully photographed images of prominent Sapeurs in various neighborhoods across the country these men are a sight for sore eyes for a country ravished by war and political control, and painted to the rest of the world as dark and overwhelmingly hopeless. A beacon of identity for a country in crisis. Because not only do the people need tradition and culture to grasp on to, but they need inspiration to help motivate and spur on the inevitable evolution of a new age. 

At DRC ApeParel, we believe in the creative process and art being a strong influence for change and inspiration in peoples' lives. Our designs are meant to make you feel and we encourage you to express yourself! For more on the history of SAPE, check out this article by author, Eccentric Yoruba.

All pictures are courtesy of

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this article. I really enjoyed it. Keep it coming it's definitely needed to shed light of consciousness in this world.