Tartan kilts, skirts, wide-leg pants by Yohji Yamamoto, clothes made in the Congo entirely from paper... the sapeur's wardrobe is resolutely eccentric in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The elegant art of dressing known as SAPE (which stands for the Society of Ambiance-makers and Elegant people) may have started in Brazzaville on the other side of the majestic Congo River, but since arriving in Kinshasa back in the 1960s, it has taken on its own special flavor.
Each 10 February, the madness reaches fever pitch. On this self-proclaimed "international day of the SAPE", hundreds of sapeurs crowd into the small Kinshasa cemetery that houses the grave of their "mentor", the singer Stervos Niarcos who died in 1995. With a great deal of noise and disorderliness, they compete to dress in the most original fashion and attract the attention of the numerous photographers and local television stations attending the event.