Fashion, Art, Sex, and Disco

“Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex and Disco”, written by brothers Roger and Mauricio Padilha, is a comprehensive account about the life and work of Antonio Lopez. With an introduction by Andre León Talley, quotes from Bill Cunningham, and an epilogue by Anna Sui, one feels the full-circle effect that Lopez had on the fashion world. The book follows Lopez’s career chronologically. Peppered between the glamorous parties, models and studio sessions are career changing events in Lopez’s work. The Padilha brothers include the most scintillating and revealing details about Lopez as a person and artist. However, the illustrations and photos by Lopez curated in the book speak volumes more than anything that could be said about the visionary artist. 

In the beginning of his career after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Lopez entered the declining art form of fashion illustration. At a time when photography had taken over the glossies, Lopez is credited with single-handedly bringing fashion illustration back to magazines. He went on to be published in numerous periodicals such as The New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, as well as the fashion bible itself, Vogue.

Lopez created an enormous number of drawings, illustrations, photographs, mixed-media journals, and paintings that make up his three decade-long oeuvre and influence on the fashion world. In “Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex, and Disco,” his most prolific, as well as never seen before works are featured along side “Instamatics” (Polaroids) and letters which collectively give the reader a sense of the impact of this extraordinary artist. 

Over the course of his career he adapted his creations to the changing times and styles of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s with the execution of an expert eye. The Polaroids are the true gems of the collection. Lopez was an avid Polaroid photographer. Moments captured with his camera include scenes of sensuality a la Grace Jones posing in a fizzy bathtub, Jerry Hall bent provocatively over a motorcycle, and hot pink pubic hair in the shape of a heart. Other photographs feature B-Boys posing in break dance moves for sketch references, and a young Karl Lagerfeld sipping Classic Coke on the beach. 

One of the most profound impacts Antonio had was mingling sexuality with fashion. He experimented by drawing men slipping on stockings and women's shoes, and women with angular, masculine features. His many variations on pushing the boundaries of what it means to be feminine or masculine helped free high fashion from the chains of its conservative mundaneness.

The history of Lopez’s work is told with contextual detail, adding color to the images he produced, for example, a series of psychedelic-inspired illustrations that predated Richard Avedon’s famous portraits of The Beatles by a year. Lopez was always cutting edge, and invariably ahead of the fashion industry with his art. This in part made him such a hot commodity in conjunction with his personality and personal style. When Lopez got involved with Andy Warhol, the two artists along with their entourages would go gallivanting in Paris at nightclubs and parties while dancing and drinking. Often after a night of music and dance Lopez would retreat back to his studio in the early hours of the morning and work into the next afternoon. 

“Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex and Disco by Roger Padilha and Mauricio Padilha - RIZZOLI” is a must-have in any art collection for its wild and fascinating images, and storied narrative. Meticulously curated, the selection of works are the very best of Lopez’s creations. One would be hard pressed to find the same rare pieces on their own, as Sui points out in her epilogue. Readers of this book can turn its pages many times over and be washed by inspiration through each color, line and word. “Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex and Disco” will inspire generations to come through the emotive and thought provoking questions it asks behind every illustration and photograph.

Originally published at Vestal Magazine

Brook Review

Images courtesy of Rizzoli