The street style world was hit with terrible news this week, as OG photographer Tommy Ton announced his departure from Style.com. While this is unlikely to be Ton's full-on retirement from the street style game, seeing him say goodbye to the now-closing website is like saying goodbye to an entire era of fashion.
So this is my Style.com sign off. I want to thank everyone over the last six years for their incredible outpour of support. I grew up glued to my computer screen living vicariously through the world of Style.com and never in a million years did I expect to become a contributor to the most relevant and influential fashion publication. It's sad to see it go but fashion is all about change and moving forward. I want to thank Dirk Standen, Nicole Phelps and Tim Blanks for mentoring me and giving me this platform. I, still to this day, pinch myself that I had this incredible opportunity and will be forever grateful to the Style.com team for allowing me to be a part of history. Last week was my last submission in the field and I was fortunate to have my friend, Nick Wooster, be the last image I took for Style.com. Many, many thanks again, Tommy http://www.style.com/street/tommy-ton/2015/spring-2016-menswear-street-style
A photo posted by Tommy Ton (@tommyton) on Jul 21, 2015 at 2:55pm PDT
That's not hyperbole either. Ton has seen and photographed the biggest names coming in, out, and around the spectacle of fashion weeks worldwide. Naturally, this meant that Ton would take a few pictures of Kanye West. But what Ton captured wasn't just any picture of West at Fashion Week; he captured the photo of West at fashion week.
You're probably more familiar with this photo than you are with any other image in Ton's archive, and that's understandable. With the image parodied in the now classic South Park episode "Fishsticks," the image has reached a level of pop-culture phenomena.
Ton said of the experience in a 2013 interview with Complex:
"I was laughing so hard when I saw the way that they placed them in that episode! It was the same position as the image! Things really travel quickly, especially with the Internet. I was in shock, but I mean I don't go around saying 'my photo was in South Park!' I don't take much credit for it."
But having his legendary image ripped off for a few laughs was certainly worth it in the long run. The whole experience ultimately led to a meet-up between the Louis Vuitton Don and Ton in Paris (natch).
As Ton told Complex:
"[Kanye's] a good friend. I was in shock when we first met, and that he was even aware of what I did. He made Anna Dello Russo hunt me down in Paris in 2011 so he could talk to me.
"We met in a traffic circle because Anna had to find his car, he got out and said 'Yo, I'm a big fan.' And I was like '…Hi.'
"A couple of nights later, I was having dinner with Christine Centenera who works with him, and she texted him that it was my birthday, and he said 'Yo, I'm coming.' I was all 'Shut the fuck up!'"
And yes, West did actually show up.
"He showed up just before midnight, and he's like 'Yo! Let's go have champagne, it's your birthday!' I had no idea what the hell was happening. We had some champers then went back to the Marais to sit and chop it up."
Naturally, things took a turn for the bizarre—and by bizarre, we mean Parisian street karaoke with Yeezus himself.
"We started talking about clothes—this was the beginning of his idea to do a line—and obviously me, being a nerd, was like 'I really love 808s. And I love when you sing a cappella.'
"So he goes 'Yo, what do you want me to sing?' I told him I really like "Streetlights," so he said 'Okay, I'm gonna break it down for you right now.' Then he started singing a cappella, and then asked me what else I liked, and I said "Coldest Winter" so he said 'Okay, let's sing that together.' There wasn't anyone around to see it, and I was just like 'Wow. I cannot believe this is happening.' That's how I rang in my 27th birthday. It's one of my most cherished memories."
Does Ton's departure from Style.com signal a disappointing end to an incredible era of street style? Sadly, yes. But when you're ringing in your birthday with a private Kanye West a capella show, we're confident that Ton made (will continue to make) the most of his incredible street style work.