DANIELE TAMAGNI: Gentlemen of Bacongo

aking fashion a religion, Congolese dandies have created a subculture that considers the possession of status symbols the pinnacle of success. Known locally as Sapeurs, men of all ages flaunt designer fashions even if they really can’t afford them. Both celebrated musicians and the unemployed make up the membership of Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (SAPE), which roughly translates to a society of elegant people that have an ambiance about them. Beyond being stylish, Sapeurs are also confirmed pacifists. There are strict rules of dress for Sapeurs: three colors are the maximum for an outfit and the status of style is increased by accessories, such as cigars, pipes, ties, glasses, and walking sticks. Over the course of several years, Italian photographer Daniele Tamagni documented the colorful dandies of Bacongo, a district of Brazzaville in the Congo, which is considered the birthplace of SAPE, the religion of style. In 2009, Tamagni’s photographs were compiled into the compact monograph Gentlemen of Bacongo, published by Trolley Books, and this year he was awarded the ICP Infinity Award for Fashion. As you can see below on the first group of pictures a clear example of how Daniele’s work infuenced fashion design. Daniele can be contacted at the link below.