Baudouin Mouanda began his photographic journey in 1993 when his father offered him his first camera. Inspired by the elegance of French men and British dandies while studying journalism in Paris, (‘…the dandy of yesterday is the Sapeur of today…’), Mouanda focused on documenting the ‘Sapeurs’ (fashion’s unlikely elite) of the so-called S.A.P.E in his own country. S.A.P.E (Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes, or the Society of Tastemakers and Elegant People) is the acronym from which the tuxedo-clad Sapeurs take their name. Emulating 19th century gentlemen and the genteel sophistication of European dandies, the vibrant subculture of the Sapeurs, in chromatic suits and cigar in hand (considered the symbol of a noble gentleman), cuts through Brazzaville’s shantytowns and dusty urban sprawls and presents a sartorial revolution of the working class.
In 2009, Mouanda received the Young Talent Award at the Rencontres de Bamako, Bamako, Mali from a jury headed by the acclaimed artist Malick Sidibé. He has exhibited widely in museums and participated in several international exhibitions such as L’Art d’être un homme in 2009 at the Musée Dapper in Paris, and Africa Rising at Louis Vuitton HQ in Paris, a collaborative project with the Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC) Jean Pigozzi and the musician Bono. His first solo exhibition in the UK was shown at Gasworks in London in 2011. Earlier in 2013, Mouanda was featured at the Museum of Art and Design (RISD) in Providence, USA.