Did you know Luka Sabbat was one considered the "Internet's coolest teenager"? Or did you even know who Luka Sabbat was before he started dating Kourtney Kardashian?
The 20-year-old model/actor/creative's Google search has likely gone up a considerable amount since he was first spotted out with Kourtney, 39, in September. But Luka's been a major player in the influencer scene since 2015, amassing his own devoted cult following long before stepping out with the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star.
While Luka was discovered by a modeling scout on the streets of New York when he was 15, he was raised in the fashion industry in Paris. His father was a designer, while his mother was a stylist for John Galliano and Dior, meaning at just three years-old, Luka was sitting front row at one of the biggest fashion shows in the world.
"I would be front row at Galliano and crying because the music is loud and everybody is clapping," Luka told W Magazine of his early memories. "I was just so confused. And then I would go backstage and all the models would hold me. That was the best part. I've always liked beautiful women."
Despite growing up in that world, his modeling career started off as an "accident," Sabbat told Complex in 2015, when he was approached by a manager when he was buying video games with his father. While he wasn't sure he wanted to be a model, the allure of money and travel eventually drew him in. "Sounds fire," were his exact words.
Within a week of signing his contract with ReQuest Model Management, Luka landed his first campaign.
"I got a big check. Like, I'd never seen a number that big on a check," he said.
And the campaigns kept coming. Luka ended up appearing in advertisements for American Eagle and Calvin Klein, all while forming friendships with all of the Internet's dream BFFs: Rihanna, Willow and Jaden Smith, and Lorde, to name a few.
But it was through his friendship with Virgil Abloh, who had his own line OFF-WHITE that Luka modeled for, that Luka would land his true breakout moment.
At 18, Luka walked in his first show: Yeezy Season 1, Kanye West's debut collection with Adidas Originals in 2015. Abloh had called Luka to meet up, not telling him that he was with West, who was casting the show.
"I was not expecting it. I was starstruck at first. Virgil introduces me as a creative and not just a random kid or model which is a good look for me," he told Complex. "He was like: ‘This is Luka, the next up, creative young guy.' And Kanye's like: ‘Nice to meet you. I'm Kanye.' And I'm like: ‘No shit.'"
Luka was cast on the spot and ended up becoming one of Yeezy's first-ever models, appearing in the show along with Kylie Jenner.
From there, Luka's rise continued, with Complex eventually labeling him the "Internet's coolest teenager," and he struck up a friendship with Kanye and the Kardashian-Jenners. Oh, and he graduated high school in 2015 after wearing a Tom Ford tux to his prom because the designer himself gave it to him.
Though he went off to college, he dropped out after less than a semester to continue working as a model and "a young creative entrepreneur," his self-appointed profession in an interview with Forbes.
He ended up teaming up with artist Noah Dillon for Hot Mess, a photography project that has gone on to include a capsule clothing collection.
"I just want people to stop looking at me as such a model and more as a creative. I'm tired of, like, people think I'm just a face, but they don't understand I actually create," he told BET in 2017. "I just want to be able to make stuff that I like with my friends and people I look up to.
In 2016, he began dating fellow model Adriana Mora, with the couple walking in the Dolce & Gabbana show and starring in a Hugo Boss campaign together, leading them to be named as one of Fashionista's "19 Gorgeous Model Couples to Follow" in January 2017. They broke up later that year.
Luka is one of the prime examples of how someone becomes famous in a post-Instagram era and wisely uses it to build a lasting career. While he's only recently hit over a million followers on Instagram, his influence was was undeniable.
"He represents a life a lot of people want, and that's important to advertisers. I wish I was that kid," John Jannuzzi, the United States deputy editor of Twitter Moments, told The New York Times in 2016, with DigitasLBi's marketing director Dave Marsey saying, "You want to know him. You want to be around him. He's the cool kid at the party we all want to be."
There's that word again: Cool. Cigarettes, which he's smoked since he was 12, effortlessly dangle from his lips. He knows all the
Luka himself was well-aware of his influence and noted "it can be exhausting" keeping up with the "cool" reputation he had effortlessly cultivated by just being himself.
"Being a kid there's only two ways you can go: You're either an influencer or you're influenced. You're either a leader or a follower. I feel like so many kids in this era copy-and-paste what we do," he told Complex. "I mean it's cool and I like to inspire kids, but be your own person. So much of these kids see something and don't know how to make it their own. Everyone's obsessed with being other people all the time and that's a tragedy! Because when they grow up—what the f--k are they going to be? Someone else? Are they going to be living vicariously through someone else? Do your own s--t."
Earlier this year, Luka officially added actor to his resume when he made his acting debut in Grown-ish, Freeform's spinoff of Black-ish, ABC's award-winning comedy.
Grown-ish centers on Yara Shahidi's character Zoey living, loving and f—king up as a college freshman. And from the very first scene he was in, Luka made an impression, which makes sense seeing as how the show's creator Kenya Barris based the character, aptly named Luca, off of him after meeting him.
"Luka, I actually bumped into in an elevator at the Soho House, and we complimented each other's pants. I saw how people were responding to this kid. He was this guy who has this energy to him," Barris told UpRoxx. "I was like, I have to know who he is. I did some research and I reached out to him. I knew he had never acted before and just was like, ‘I want you to be you.' That's kind of who he is in the show: a version of who he is."
And Luca basically is Luka: the energy, the soft-spoken voice, the hair, the jewelry, the clothes—it's all Luka.
"One of the things Kenya said was he loved his style," the show's costume designer Michelle Cole told E! News. "[Sabbat] does know the stores, he does know the people, so…he did bring some things into it. He's very good about giving his input…Honestly, he looks great in everything. I mean, the man wears a house-robe!"
And he styled it himself in the premiere. "He's pretty much playing himself. His wardrobe is pretty much his," Cole said.
The fan response to Luka was so strong that he was upped from a recurring role to series regular for its upcoming second season.
Since appearing in the Yeezy x Adidas show back in 2015, Luka had been spotted out with Kylie and Kendall Jenner over the years, attending the launch of their clothing line and hitting hotspots in L.A., New York and Paris together.
"It's definitely becoming more exclusive and a regular thing," a source close to Kourtney recently told E! News. "Kourtney loves spending time with Luka and finds him super cool and extremely attractive. He's different from other guys she has dated and she's having fun with him. She's really enjoying getting to know him and seeing where it goes. Every time they say goodbye she can't wait to see him again."
And just this week the new couple went on a casual double-date with Kendall and her rumored new beau Anwar Hadid (Luka is friends with the Hadids, too, natch), with Kourtney's eldest son Mason also tagging along for the group outing.
"Kourtney was helping Mason but also chatted with Luka and had a big smile on her face," an insider spilled to E! News.
It seems like Luka just has that effect on people.
Watch a brand new episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians Sunday at 9 p.m., only on E!