#BlackIsBeautiful: Sapeurs, Sapeuses, and Dandies

Sapeurs: Ladies and Gentlemen of the Congo

British photographer Tariq Zaidi presents a fashion subculture of Kinshasa & Brazzaville: La Sape, Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (“Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People”). Its followers are known as »Sapeurs« (»Sapeuses« for women). Most have ordinary day jobs as taxi-drivers, tailors and gardeners, but as soon as they clock off they transform themselves into debonair dandies. Sashaying through the streets they are treated like rock stars – turning heads, bringing ‘joie de vivre’ to their communities and defying their circumstances. Traditionally passed down through the male line, many Congolese women and their children have recently begun donning designer suits.

Sapeurs: Ladies and Gentlemen of the Congo

Text and photography by Tariq Zaidi

Design by Stuart Smith

Publisher: Kehrer Verlag, December 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-3868289732

Gentlemen of BaCongo

This book provides a fascinating insight to the vibrant street style of the ‘Sapeurs’, the elegant and immaculately dressed dandies from the heart of the Congo. The Sapeurs today belong to ‘La SAPE’ (Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes) – one of the world’s most exclusive clubs. Members have their own code of honour, codes of professional conduct and strict notions of morality. It is a world within a world within a city. Designer brands of suits and accessories are important to sapeurs, and they work hard to save as much money as they can to dedicate to the most beautiful suits and accessories they can find. But their amazing style is also based on strict rules of elegance, beauty and harmony of colours. They dress to impress, whilst also being ambassadors of etiquette, peace and music, as well as the essence of style. The result is a unique and inspiring style, that has captured the imagination of people all over the world – the sapeurs are now truly the kings of elegance.

Gentlemen of BaCongo

by Italian author Daniele Tamagani

Introduction by Paul Smith, one of the world’s most renowned and influential menswear designers.

Publisher: Trolley Books

ISBN: 978-1904563839

Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style

Suits that pop with loud colors and dazzling patterns, complete with a nearly ubiquitous bowtie, define the style of the new “dandy.” Described as “high-styled rebels” by author Shantrelle P. Lewis, black men with a penchant for color and refined fashion, both new and vintage, have gained popular attention in recent years, influencing mainstream fashion. But black dandyism itself is not new; originating in Enlightenment England’s slave culture, it has continued for generations in black cultures around the world. Now, set against the backdrop of hip-hop culture, this iteration of dandies is redefining what it means to be black, masculine, and fashionable. Dandy Lion presents and celebrates individual dandy personalities, designers and tailors, movements and events that define contemporary dandyism. Throughout the book, self-expression is communicated through personal style, clothing, shoes, hats, and swagger. Lewis’s carefully curated selection of contemporary photographs surveys the movement across the globe in spectacular form, with all of the vibrant patterns, electrifying colors, and fanciful poses of this brilliant style subculture.

Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style

by American author Shantrelle P. Lewis

Publisher: Aperture

ISBN: 978-1597113892

Shauntee Burns-Simpson

Shauntee Burns-Simpson (MLIS) currently serves as the 2020-2022 President of BCALA. She is the Associate Director of School Outreach for The New York Public Library. An ambassador for libraries and Youth Librarian, President Burns-Simpson enjoys connecting people to the public library and its resources. She works closely with at-risk teens and fosters a love of reading & learning with her innovative programs. In addition to leading BCALA, she chairs the American Library Association Office of Diversity, Literacy, & Outreach Services (ODLOS) Committee on Diversity.

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