Home to major fashion brands and world-renowned art museums, Paris offers seemingly unlimited opportunities to art and design enthusiasts. Two IES Abroad Paris Summer – Beginning Language & Marketing students took full advantage of one such opportunity to meet Virgil Abloh, artistic director of Louis Vuitton's men's wear collection; Takashi Murakami, a fine arts media artist; and designer Blondey McCoy, artist and founder of Thames, at the Louis Vuitton Foundation.
On recommendation from their IES Abroad professor, Sean Demmon and Abrahaim (Abe) Fleischman, both from University of Wisconsin – Madison, decided to spend one of their Sundays exploring the exhibits at the Louis Vuitton Foundation. Professor Olorenshaw teaches their Introduction to Luxury Brand Management course and encourages students to visit the Foundation to take in the building’s architecture, designed by Frank Gehry, and temporary modern art exhibits. After waiting in line for six hours, the two students received free VIP passes and were able to meet the featured artists.
"Getting to view the Virgil Abloh x Takashi Murakami exhibit was one of my favorite experiences during my time here in Paris,” Sean said. “The pieces were incredible, and it gave me a newfound appreciation for art and design. Seeing and being able to meet Virgil Abloh, Takashi Murakami and Blondey McCoy is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m glad that waiting in line for six hours before the exhibit opened paid off!"
Virgil Abloh was recently named the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear collection and is the CEO of the Milan-based label Off White that he founded in 2013. Born in Rockford, Illinois to Ghanian parents, Virgil is the first African-American in his role at Louis Vuitton. Virgil also attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison and connected with Sean and Abe on their shared alma mater.
Virgil’s design work is one-half of the Virgil Abloh x Takashi Murakami exhibit that Sean and Abe viewed. Known for his colorful art that blurs the line between fine art and commercial media, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami has exhibited his art around the world. He also donated a piece of art to the foundation’s Recto/Verso #2 exhibit that was on display the same day Sean and Abe visited.
The Recto/Verso #2 exhibit featured artwork donated by 100 French and international artists. After two weeks on display, the foundation auctioned off all the pieces. The proceeds went to Secours Populaire Francais, a non-profit association that fights against the problems of exclusion and seeks to help people through aid in access to housing, healthcare, and employment.
The two students also met Blondey McCoy, a British skateboarder, artist, and fashion designer who was with Virgil and Murakami that day.
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