Monday, 2 May 2011

One's Albion In The Making . . . . .

What with the weather being balmy, the hottest of all Aprils in the last 350 years apparently, everything around me has almost never seemed so grey. A full week of peering out into a stark reality whilst not wanting at all to peer inside & begin to ask where a bout of  "Dreaded Dandy's Debauchery" came from? Not much was elegant, pretty much all, in truth was tragic.

In the last day or so, it is reflections on a couple of quotes from a certain Mr Horsley that the thought of getting up & dressed is once again inspiring me as it should, to go out into the world & start becoming the man I believe I was meant to be.

"Being well-dressed gives a feeling of inward tranquility which psychoanalysis is powerless to bestow."

Thank God for Sebastian.  

When what you wear directly influences how you feel, how you present yourself to the world & in all honesty, how the world perceives you. For it is a fact that it is only the shallow people who DO NOT judge by first impressions and appearances. So I return to colour of cloth to brighten up my visions of Grey.

Not many folks do this as well Le Sapeurs. A group of Gentleman from the Brazzaville region of the Congo.

“Le Sap is our essence,” explains sapeur Willy Cavory a leading practitioner of , Le Sape – The Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (The society for people of elegance and ambiance)- otherwise referred as the ‘religion of clothing.’

“ It is our way of life and not just the dressing,” he continues. “ It is how we express our individuality and our character. Along with our families, Le Sap, is our reason for being. “

That in itself is quite some statement, "it is our reason for being".

So much of their way of life is inspirational, coming from the most poverished & humble of backgrounds, there dress is in complete contrast to this and really is the finest celebration of life.

The movement was sparked by Congolese musician Papa Wemba, in the 1960′s and 1970′s, who had been inspired by European clothing and products that were eventually banned after Zaire’s independence. Due to political issues, his exquisite taste and “promotion of high standards of personal cleanliness, hygiene and smart dress, to a whole generation of youth across Zaire, essentially kept him an a controversial spotlight. These proud African men come in peace and are the epitome of a fashionable laissez faire, standing firm by their motto “Let’s drop the weapons, let us work and dress elegantly.”

The Sapeurs belong to Le SAPE which stands for the Société des Ambianceurs et Personnes Élégants. "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.  Respected and admired in their communities, todays sapeurs see themselves as artists. Each one has his own repertoire of gestures that distinguishes him from the others. They are also after their own great dream: to travel to Paris and to return to Bacongo as lords of elegance.

Photographer Daniele Tamagni's new book Gentlemen of Bacongo captures the fascinating subculture.

A few of their axioms:
  1. A Congolese Sapeur is a happy man even if he does not eat, because wearing proper clothes feeds the soul and gives pleasure to the body.
  2. A real Sapeur needs to be cultivated and speak fluently, but also have a solid moral ethic: that means beyond the appearance and vanity of smart, expensive clothing there is the moral nobility of the individual.
  3. When the Sapeur expresses himself through the harmony of his clothes, he is returning his admiration to God.
  4. A Sapeur does not shed blood. Your clothes do all the fighting for you, otherwise you are not fit to be called a Sapeur.
They all sound fine by me! The one chap below, I found an image of months ago, had cut out & fixed to his own board so standing next to a cigarette box, holds his posture with as much elegance as any man I've ever come across along with a self assured knowledge that his "reason for being" is unashamedly being fulfilled.

It is with hope that I may once again steer myself  toward  my own Albion, in a manner that could go unnoticed, though still adhere to  personal ideals that will clear the wreckage of my past, making amends & in as gracious manner as possible.

1 comment:

  1. The Congolese Sapeur I am sure could never go unnotices.
    Great Blog