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Inside Congo fashion week: Kingdom of the sapeurs – Photos


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Tailors make some last-minute adjustments Photograph: Olivia Acland


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


Action on the catwalk Photograph: Olivia Acland


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


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