For followers of the Yoruba religion, active mostly in Benin, Nigeria, and other parts of West Africa, getting dressed is a form of transcendence. Composed of several layers of cloth and adorned with patchwork patterns, amulets, braids, sequins, and tassels, the elaborate head-to-toe ensembles worn by Egungun priests, initiates, and town elders are the centerpieces of an annual masquerade custom in honor of the dead, the medium for the wearer’s transformation into his ancestors. France’s Stéphan Gladieu is one of the rare photographers to have documented the Yoruba Egungun ceremonies. His images, at once solemn and vibrant, marry the gravity of religious rite with the excitement of a costumed carnival. —Julia Vitale