Exciting Times for Fashion: Antonio Lopez (1943-1987)

Writing this article has been a rather educating one for me because we millennials fail most of the time when it comes to understanding the decades that came before us. Because even though we manage to learn the political events that occurred, get an understanding of the musical trends and so on, there is always a piece of information missing. (Which is why people read, you might say.) This article is about a very tiny part of those decades. About the understanding of art and fashion and particularly about the artist Antonio Lopez.

Lopez was one of the biggest artists involved in the fashion industry around the 70s. He was even described as “the Gauguin of our time,” by model Pat Cleveland. Despite his fame and influence, Lopez, who died from AIDS in 1987 at 44, has faded from the public consciousness. Fashion’s fickle behavior is partially to blame, but more so the stigma associated with AIDS at the time of his death. “So many people who died pre-Internet, and especially those who died in the early days of AIDS, have really been thrust under the carpet,” says Roger Padilha. So my aim is to introduce Antonio Lopez and his inspiring work to many including my generation, because I was unaware of him until I dug deep into the internet.

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Antonio Lopez was born in Puerto Rico in 1943 and died in LA in 1987, at the young age 44 due to complications caused by AIDS 😦 He was an artist, better known for the illustrations he created for such publications as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Interview and The New York Times. He dominated the fashion industry for 3 decades with his partner Juan Ramos. He is the king of illustrations and has produced art in other forms too, such as photography. Lopez brought ethnically diverse models to the mainstream white fashion world. His closest friends and coworkers included icon Bridget Bardot, artist Andy Warhol, designer Karl Lagerfeld, model Jessica Lange and Jerry Hall, the amazing Grace Jones and Bill Cunningham, the legendary New York fashion photographer.

At the time high fashion was being criticized for the lack of diversity for all the good reasons. You will see these accusations probably excluded him. But the restrictions on fashion still go on just like they exist in our social life. Anyways, 2016 was a year in which the fashion industry has taken steps toward true diversity which is why I thought this might be a good time to talk about him. Besides, his work is beyond beautiful…

 

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Alvinia Bridges in Charles James, illustration by Antonio Lopez, 1978.

In his young years, he was very much exposed to a free environment of creative arts by his family. He studied fashion since the age of 12 until at last he was accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology. There, he met his partner Juan Ramos. Their relationship was very much beyond a romantic one, it became an inseparable professional partnership. When you talk about the work of Antonio Lopez, you’re also talking about the work of Juan Ramos. Juan Ramos was the “ideas” man, the art director who brainstormed and conceived the image. Antonio Lopez would draft and then draw the image, with Mr. Ramos occasionally performing the color-work.

“I believe his technique and drawings are wonderful. Above all, he has a journalist’s eye. He sees more than others. Lopez dwells beyond the limits of any commercial category he may have been placed in. Beyond his paper creations, Lopez can create and influence other entities.” -Andy Warhol

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It’s been really exciting for me to see the various styles he used throughout the years. Like this one which is almost like a reference to this quote about him:

“Antonio Lopez is the Picasso of fashion illustration” Paul Caranicas.

Or the many colorful and fashion-forward illustrations that speak a different, more vibrant language.

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Here are only some of his other works I loved.

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