Just when you think documenting the Sapeurs couldn’t be more done, Guinness have made a glossy ad in an attempt to catch onto a trend already known to the mainstream… Have they missed the boat on this one? Or is there always room to be further fascinated by the Society of Elegant Persons of the Congo?
In 2009 Italian photographer Daniele Tamagni took the art world by storm with his pictures documenting the elegantly dressed society of Sapeurs in Brazzaville-Congo ‘La Sape’. His photographs, published by Trolley books, highlighted him as an acclaimed photographer. “Gentlemen of Bacongo“ provided a fascinating insight to the vibrant street style of the immaculately dressed dandies from the heart of the Congo.
Even if the name doesn’t ring a bell, the front cover image of the book will – the African man exuding class, frozen in a hurried motion of having somewhere to be, cigar in mouth, looking dapper in a pink suite and matching hat. Remember it?
Paul Smith and Solange Knowles have sought inspiration from Tamagni’s works. And other photographers carrying out similar projects have also acknowledged Tamagni for his contribution towards the Sapeurs into the limelight.
Like with Solange’s Sapeurs themed music video “Losing You“, inspired by Tamagni’s “Gentlemen of Bacongo”, the new Guinness add is also filmed in South Africa, with the involvement of professional stylists.
There’s no wrong in Guinness showcasing something positive about Africa, but with their multi-million budget for an ad, my main concern is whether it strips away some authenticity…
What are your thoughts on the new ad?
“GUINNESS’ new ad features the ‘society of elegant persons of the Congo’ otherwise known as the ‘Sapeurs’, a group of everyday heroes from Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. In this ad, GUINNESS follows the Sapeurs whose way of life is a testament to the belief of putting more in, to get more out. Their life is not defined by occupation or wealth, but by respect, a moral code and an inspirational display of flair and creativity. This is demonstrated through their love of stylish dressing; but it is not the fabric or cost of the suit that counts, it is the worth of the man inside it.”
Check out the short documentary also