British photographer Tariq Zaidi presents a fashion subculture of Kinshasa & Brazzaville: La Sape, Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (Society of Ambiance-Makers & 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. As Papa Wemba (1949–2016, Congolese singer and fashion icon who popularized Sape) once said: »White people invented the clothes, but we make an art of it.«
About the Author
Tariq Zaidi is a freelance photographer currently based out of London, UK. The images Tariq Zaidi presents in his work were taken in context, in the communities in which people live. What you see in the photographs is what he saw.
Tariq has spent most of his life travelling. He has lived in ten countries on four continents. He has travelled independently to well over one hundred countries, including 33 in Africa alone. His perspective of the world around us is as much a traveller’s one as a photographer’s. His global and multi-cultural background shapes his outlook and his photography.
Tariq aims to inform and educate his audience with true and compelling content that may, even in a small way, elevate the human spirit and change the way we think about ourselves and the world we live in.
In 2014, he gave up an executive management position in an events business to pursue his passion of capturing the dignity, strength and soul of people, within their environment. His photography focuses on documenting social issues, inequality, traditions and endangered communities around the world. Tariq self-assigns, funds, researches and writes his own work.