La SAPE Congolaise: Tracing elegance between Brazzaville and Paris

This summer, I will be in Paris, France researching the Congolese sartorial practice, la SAPE. SAPE is an acronym for Société des Ambiencieurs et Personnes Elegantes, loosely translated as socieity of ambiencers and elegant people. (In French, the word “saper” is also slang for dressing up.) I will be blogging and producing video interviews about la SAPE's current incarnation in contemporary France.

Location

Paris
France
  • Alice Hines | July 19th, 2011
    Amplified thumb pianos, a giant wooden xylophone, a plastic whistle, and many rocking guitars were among the marvels on stage at the Congotronics vs. Rockers show last Saturday at Café de la Danse. Not at all a battle of the bands or a mash-up...
  • Alice Hines | July 6th, 2011
    A plate of the first colonial building in Brazzaville, 1884.   Brice Ahounou is a French-Beninois anthropologist and journalist. In 2009, he helped organize a photography exhibit and conference at Paris's Musée Dapper on la Sape, which included...
  • Alice Hines | July 4th, 2011
    Ben Mukasha at his restaurant, La Sapelogie (57 rue Clignancourt)  Friday afternoon I went to the restaurant La Sapelogie in Paris's 18th arrondissement to meet owner and renowned sapeur Ben Mukasha. While waiting, I chatted with his friends...
  • Alice Hines | June 27th, 2011
    Gervaise looked up, examining the facade. On the street side, the tenement had five stories, each with fifteen windows, whose black shutters with their broken slats gave an air of desolation to the wide expanse of wall. . . Four shops occupied the...
  • Alice Hines | June 27th, 2011
    During our interview, Olivier of Sape-BZ asked me which stories had piqued my interest in la Sape. In response to his question and as a guide for future admirers and researchers, here is a list of the best articles, films, and books I've found. (As...
  • Alice Hines | June 22nd, 2011
    Olivier B., age 37, was born in the 18th arrondissement of Paris to parents from Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. A pharmacy attendant, he maintains the blog/forum Sape-BZ in his spare time. I spoke to him on Monday June 21 at a café by Paris' Gare...
  • (photo by Héctor Mediavilla)
    Alice Hines | June 17th, 2011
    (photo by Héctor Mediavilla) In my first post, I'd like to play at a little art criticism and talk about how sapeurs are photographed, both by themselves and by non-Congolese photographers. Sapeurs are not camera-shy. Showing off one's carefully...