Who would have thought that the tall Black gentleman wearing canary yellow sneakers, red framed sunglasses, a shiny Moncler vest, and a Jil Sander by Raf Simons shirt (with a bowtie) would become the artistic director of Louis Vuitton Men’s?
In 2009 Virgil Abloh, who would land that position almost a decade later, was photographed with Kanye West, Don C, Fonzworth Bentley, Taz Arnold and Chris Julian by Tommy Ton at Paris Fashion Week. This picture, which was taken outside of the Comme des Garçons Homme show, signified a time when Paris Fashion Week looked very different from how it looks today. Remember that meme? And these gentlemen knew they deserved to be a part of it.
When Abloh spoke to Complex, almost exactly 10 years after the photograph was taken, he said the picture captured a “proper tourism.” They weren’t supposed to be there, but they were, and dressed to the nines to ensure that they were seen, heard, and acknowledged. That’s commonly how Black people utilize clothes. They take pieces that weren’t made for them and make them their own, lending them a whole new interpretation that is oftentimes swaggier than the original version. “The agenda was really to let our clothes speak for us,” Abloh told GQ.
At that point Abloh said he couldn’t get a Louis Vuitton show invite and described going into the store as “difficult.” But he remained optimistic. “I believe that art and good nature can actually change the world. I refuse to believe the opposite,” Abloh told Complex. “I didn’t think I would be the head of Louis Vuitton then but I knew it was possible.”