Maya Villiger

It's mid-week, and excited as I am about going away, I feel like I'm fraying at the edges, trying to hold the rest of me together to get the work done, and keep my wits about me. Work tripped me up a bit yesterday and got me down a bit. Still, nothing to do but to dust it off, and plough on.

I like this photo by Maya Villiger a lot (the way she's been capturing the most interesting people in last six months or so has really captivated me on a new level). It's not about her outfit exactly, even though she looks very chic, it's that air she gives off. She looks over her shoulder, as if to say, "Well, what are you waiting for?" A terrific attitude for Wednesday, the mid-week limbo.

Meanwhile, something from an article I read on the WSJ magazine:

"Yves Kandaiz, a Sapeur friend of Kalubi, arrives dressed in a flowing black all-Yohji-Yamamoto outfit—a skirt and hooded-jacket combo that makes him look like one of the sand people in "Star Wars." Brazzaville Sapes worship classical fashion. Kin Sapeurs, they tell me, adore Yohji because his style is violent and brutal, in line with the spirit of their city. Where Salvador and Elyfontaine, over in Brazzaville, dressed, strutted and spoke like someone from a Somerset Maugham novel, Kalubi and Kandaiz take to the streets in an utterly different way: Kandaiz extends one arm and holds his jacket open, as if spreading a wing, to reveal the Yohji label inside. Kalubi stomps in the dirt like he's marching off to war.

I admire their attempt to find a style that reflects the anarchic, neo-noir atmosphere of their world. But Kin is a broken-down shell of a city and there's no constancy in the Sape culture here. Life in today's DRC grinds people down, lays them to waste. The corruption that plunders the nation's mineral wealth has even trickled down to its snakeskin suits. Elegance and extravagance just don't seem able to offer an escape from problems that run so deep."

The concept of dressing to make a point, executed by the Sapeurs of Congo. A deeply fascinating read.

Picture from turned out


Amanda said…
Have fun on your vacation! Maya's photos are great because they are so much more realistic than her other "street style" counterparts.
Joy said…
Omg I just read the article and holy cow I love what everyone is wearing. It all blows my mind. I apologise for stereotyping but I just had no freaking idea that there are such a huge group of super well dressed men in Congo that look even better than some at Pitti. The fact that they're not just well dressed for street style photographers but to actually make a political statement makes me fall all the more in love with them. Ty so much Lin for sharing this :) have a great time in Europe!
Lindsay K said…
Hope work gets better soon! The days leading up to a big trip are always so overwhelming.

My friend, who is an amazing street style photographer started taking pictures of the Sapeurs a few years ago. He introduced me to them. They felt very comfortable with him and it has sort of become a thing that he meets up with the Sapeurs when he goes to Paris for the shows. It's a whole culture that I still don't fully comprehend. I've been begging my friend to do a book for years and then last year it sort of became the "in" thing to talk about. There were several exhibits and a lot of articles written about them.

I'm starting to feel like the WSJ and The New York Times are always playing catch up when it comes to bringing stories to the forefront.

Sorry for hogging the comments. Have an AMAZING trip!
lin said…
Amanda: Thanks! I agree, I think she always finds the girls who are comfortably themselves and not performing for the street style parade. Or at least, she photographs them in a way that feels that way.

joy: Thanks I WILL have a good time. Or not come back. The article was interesting for me because of what the writer had to say about it - it was an interesting way to approach an obviously interesting subject. I only just discovered Sapeurs last year too, I find it to be a very interesting way to use style.

Lindsay K: I suppose when something makes it into mainstream papers like WSJ and NYT, it's usually something that has already been percolating and gathering steam at the ground level. If a paper isn't breaking news, the least it can do is to report and spread something newsworthy to a bigger audience.

I actually only discovered this on some blogs last year, it's cool that your friend has been observing them for years - I'm hope his body of work and insight will find an audience somewhere. I was just thinking there are so many glossy books about style and culture that don't say anything new, beyond what anyone can simply google these days.

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