Photos Courtesy Noah Dillon
After posing for what must have been the thousandth photo in twenty minutes, Luka Sabbat looked restless. You could feel his frantic energy filling the lobby of Milk Studios Sunday afternoon, as he moved between a clothing rack, video installation, and navigating endless handshakes. He was presenting his first exhibition, Hot Mess, a collaborative effort with photographer Noah Dillon more than two years in the making. After years on the fashion scene, the 19 year-old model, influencer, and certified cool teen presented his first non-fashion related project—a series of photos documenting youth in LA, New York, Paris, and, somewhat randomly, Durango, Colorado.
Durango is Dillon’s hometown, where he lived up until 2015, when Sabbat discovered his work through Twitter. A couple of direct messages later and Dillon was on a flight to Los Angeles, where the two connected and began what eventually became Hot Mess. The series of photos, shot by Dillon and styled by Luka, explore aspects of global youth, using models so obscure that the duo professed they can no longer find them on social media.
Alongside the photos were a number of poems by writer Curtis Eggleston, a childhood friend of Dillon’s. While studying in Sao Paulo, Dillon sent Eggleston the completed photos, and Eggleston crafted poems in response. The final product depicts the millennial generation honestly and brutally—girls with acid green hair in woozy states of bliss, blurry shots of “Jesus Saves” neon signs, and endless cigarettes. Apart from the photos, all for sale, was a small clothing rack. The “merch,” as Sabbat reffered to it, included patched denim and tees emblazoned with “HOT MESS,” as well as some Vetements-esque sweats that were for sale “by appointment only.”
Sabbat and Dillon said they hoped to transition Hot Mess into a creative agency similar to DONDA, Kanye West’s creative imprint. If the exuberant crowd was any indication, they have a fair chance.