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on July 14, 2011
I have purchased this book 3 times! Once for myself and then twice as gifts. Btw, I am an African-American woman, a fashionista from way back, and have been reading and buying fashion books for decades.

I was astonished when I first picked up this book, for the cover alone is enough to grab the eye and beckon at the treasures of Black style held within. Page after page of not only extraordinary haberdashery but Black MEN at their sartorial finest - refreshing and even comforting, in an era of sagging pants and t-shirts as style.

The book certainly affirms that the roots of Black Style in the African Diaspora lie in Africa, and is a reminder of the sartorial splendor of the African American men of my "old-school" generation. Although the book describes the origin of the incredible look of the Sape as originating in their contact with European fashion, make no mistake - this book is about style as it emanates from Africa itself.

Contrary to reviewers who believe that the book is physically too small, this book made me feel as if I had a treasure in hand, a small, secret tome for the cognoscenti of style. Although I'd love to see, one day, a "cocktail table" sized book on the Sape, this small size made me feel as if even *I* was a part of this exclusive, arcane society of serious dressers. This is an exquisite book, beautifully photographed yet unflinching in depicting the finery of these men (and even a few women) in the midst of urban squalor - not unlike the men in the 'hood, here in the US. I was reminded of the slick, sharp, studied dressing in my hometown Detroit, a generation ago, where sharp-suited men reigned in on the corners of 12th Street - down the street from Motown. Even today, some of the best dressed men in the world are in churches and offices of Detroit.

I hope that the book is reprinted, for I gave away the one copy that I had purchased for myself, to someone who literally begged it away from me. Next time, I will not let it go. It is a wonderful peek into a stunning slice of African life - that resonates all the way to African-America, and to fashionistos worldwide. It is a photographic textbook for sartorialists, an visual ode to the grace and beauty of Grown Black Men.

(Read more of me:[...])
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on November 7, 2009
This book is not what I expected. It's smaller than I had previously though. It's even smaller than most regular books. The pictures are nice but given the size of the book its does not do justice to some of the pictures. Also the text is just not commensurate with the pictures. There is no in-depth explanation of some of the pictures, no real analyses, no effort to comprehend this sub-cultures that others have explained so well. If you're buying this for the pictures, then go for it knowing that the text will not help you understand and contextualize the pictures.
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on January 15, 2014
I have had this book for over 2 years now, and I still get favorable comments when friends glance through it in my house.

A lot of people do not quite understand that the cult of sape is really about an elegant rebellion against the oppression of drabness, uniformity, and herd mentality that characterized many African countries in the post-Independence period. To see this as simply a troop of misguided dandies spending money on garments they can ill afford is to miss the point.

Sape is not just about dress. It is about assertion of character. Tamagni, the author, has captured this cultural resistance in a brilliant edition. I hope to see an expanded second edition that extends the coverage to similar trends in Congo Kin, Cote dÍvoire, and other francophone countries.
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on April 11, 2010
The suits are great - great fits, great colors, and great new ideas in fashion for men and the gods know we men need some great new ideas because the current fashion scene for us is blah. The philosophy is there, a religion of style called SAPE (Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnnes Elegantes), and well stated. There is even the 10 commandments of the SAPE, including the last commandments which are yet to be written. In other words, an evolving and fluid moral philosophy. It helps if you read French because some of the most enlightening elements are in that language. What I liked best is seeing nice people dressed nicely and having fun despite an environment of abject poverty. The photos show the real life of these people, their real homes, the real streets they walk on. What's wrong with that? And if you look carefully, actually study the photographs, there are always hints in the backgrounds about their secret lives. As for me, give me some suits like those on display. I have already asked my tailor if he can make two for me - the one on the cover and the one in the center with the red and white stripes. No answer yet. My tailor is studying the book and working on the project. Complaints: No page numbers; no index so the book is not perfect, but what human thing is? Perfect is the enemy of good-enough and this book is good enough by far. It is a unique work and approaches the redemptive quality of art.
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on November 25, 2012
For a hard cover the book is smaller than I expected. This was a hard book to find last year. My husband & I have been intrigued by the modern Dandy movement that is growing in New York City and this book is a window into the global movement, in this case The Congo. A great book to have if you like Fashion history.
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on April 6, 2013
This is such a charming book, not least because books on men's style are rare, but because there is an interesting social positive to the story of these men in The Congo. This tradition of dandyism in a civil war ravaged country has the unexpected side effect of ending violence and promoting peace....read the book and find out how looking smart can save the world!
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on December 26, 2009
As another reviewer has pointed out, the person who said the book does not "contextualize" the pictures must have missed the [drum roll] introductions, which give _extensive_ background.

(I found this book from a mention on the Bright Lights LA modeling website.)
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on March 25, 2016
This book is very small. The layout is poor with photos split between two pages so you can't really see the wonderful clothes. It is outrageously overpriced. Huge disappointment.
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on December 19, 2009
The format is a friendly A5 and it's printed in a superb way. I have seen smaller books but the size particularly fits this colorful story.
On top of the words of Paul Smith, we asked a contribution from Paul Godwin, Cross Cultural Curator at the Tate in London, who has written a very interesting text on the work of Daniele Tamagni and the Sape. The author himself has added a in-depth commentary explaining a lot about the sub-culture, although we found superfluous to add a caption to every single picture and we only added them when necessary. In fact Daniele spent a long time in Brazzaville and in the Popular Republic of Congo in general. He knows personally all the Sapeurs, is well respected by them and he also speaks 'Ingala'. His pictures exude energy and I think he is the only photographer that managed to convey the fantastic character of this society. Finally, the book has been met with a strong and positive reaction by every single Sapeur that has seen it. And we sold in a month the whole print-run to enthusiastic readers.
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on November 28, 2011
This book is inspiring - the colors alone are terrific!
The energy just comes bouncing off the pages!~
Very well put to together.
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