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Monday, August 1, 2011

La SAPE: A society of Africans in France devoted to high fashion

This is a documentary detailing the lifestyle of Africans who've subscribed to the high fashion sensationalism of famed Congolese musician Papa Wemba; who first started La SAPE (An Acronym for the "Société Ambianceurs et Persons Élégants" which means "Society of Ambiance and Elegant People") first launched back in the Congo in the 1970's. Those who subscribe to this lifestyle are called "Sapeur" and these men would rather starve than look poor lol. To some, these people are fashion victims who've forsaken priorities and succumb to criminal activities to maintain their lavish lifestyles. To others they are regarded as rock stars who can be seen roaring through the Congo on mopeds in 1,000 dollar suits, and to some people they inspire self-determination, to at least look good.

In France...

These young men are also known as ”les Parisiens” – and they are a cultural affront to the older Congolese generation, who speak of ”authenticity,” anti-colonialism and Marxism. For the , the only ”ism” to follow is narcissism. And his manifesto is the society pages of glossy French-language publications like Africa Elite and Jeune Afrique. These publications breathlessly chronicle what they call ”le Paris black,” or Parisian black society. Paparazzi snap Africa’s beautiful people dining at African restaurants like Le Fouta Toro, Le Sakkara and Le Dogon – or dancing at African nightclubs. These spots, which have existed for decades, have recently become chic with the growth of an affluent African bourgeoisie. So to some people the Sapeur is a fashion icon, someone to be admired.

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