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Inside Congo fashion week: Kingdom of the sapeurs – Photos

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Models on the runway at Congo fashion week, which celebrates Congolese and African fashion


By Olivia Acland


The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s misfortunes have often eclipsed its good news, with ongoing armed conflicts and most recently an Ebola outbreak.

Much of the world knows little of the country’s vibrant arts scene, and last weekend in the capital, Kinshasa, models showed off daring new looks dreamed up by local designers on the catwalk.

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The main organiser of Congo fashion week, Nancy Kondo, said: ‘We’re using fashion to change people’s mindsets. Congolese people are the frontrunners of African fashion. We have so much talent here. The event allows us to get people talking about something else, instead of focusing on the negative’ Photo: Olivia Acland

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Pride in appearance is a big part of the Congolese identity Photograph: Olivia Acland

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Models receive a pep talk from their coach ahead of the show Photograph: Olivia Acland

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Model Cynthia Ikapa says modelling is about more than clothes, it is an expression of the love the tailors put into their work Photograph: Olivia Acland

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Model Norha Ngandu Kazadi says: ‘Fashion for me is a way in which I can express everything – joy, sadness, shock, pain. It is my passion above everything else’ Photograph: Olivia Acland

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One tagline of fashion week was: ‘Congo: au royaume des sapeurs’ (‘the kingdom of the sapeurs’) Photograph: Olivia Acland

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Models take a selfie as they wait behind the catwalk Photograph: Olivia Acland

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Tailors make some last-minute adjustments Photograph: Olivia Acland

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Models relax in the make-up room about three hours before the show Photograph: Olivia Acland

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Action on the catwalk Photograph: Olivia Acland

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Designer Richie Maya after the models have shown off his work Photograph: Olivia Acland

 

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