A Moment for Antonio Lopez

Our copy of Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex, and Disco (Rizzoli) has arrived. And let’s just say we’re devouring it, like we knew we would when we started seeing a trickle of images on Facebook, where, since March, the book’s authors, Roger and Mauricio Padilha, had been posting the fruits of their research on the celebrated fashion illustrator. (Fitting, since Lopez would have been the ultimate Facebooker, were he alive today.) And you know they’re mining the good stuff when you see the reappearance of Karl Lagerfeld’s monokini-clad physique.

Andre Leon Talley’s foreword is thoughtful and touching, as is Anna Sui’s epilogue, but really the book is about these images, these collected moments in time and fashion history, in all their color-saturated, sexually charged glory. Whatever you’ve seen of Lopez’s fashion illustrations before, observing them all together offers a definitive picture of his life and oeuvre. A clear progression emerges, from his early wide-eyed Mod girls to his seminal illustrations for the likes of Vogue and Fashions of the Times, establishing him as an artist, and a very sought-after one. His victorious ad campaign for Missoni would have been a mid-career achievement had he not succumbed to complications of AIDS just three years later, in 1987. He was 44.

Among the treasure trove of imagery, of particular note are the Polaroids. Lopez was a prolific Polaroid-taker, both as a tool for his illustrations and toy for his amusement. Everyone in his merry coterie got the instant treatment: Grace Jones frolicking in a bathtub (1975); a young, pre-blue-haired Anna Piaggi fashioning an accessory out of a plastic bag (1975); a mystery friend with pink pubic hair in the shape of a heart (1977); and a series taken on Fire Island in which a male model parades poolside in nothing more than high heels and a tail made from a mop (1979). In Lopez’s world, nudity was joyful and abundant in a way that would probably not be possible now.

Of course, Lopez was inextricably linked with the nightlife of the time. This was the disco era after all. There he is hanging out with Jackie Curtis at Max’s Kansas City (1973), holding court at the notorious Paris disco Club Sept (1972), and at the New York store-cum-hotspot Fiorucci along with his closest muses, Pat Cleveland and Jerry Hall, for the launch of his first book, Antonio’s Girls (1982).

We could go on and on. But in the interest of not obsessing too hard, we’ll stop and urge you to buy the book! Also, don’t miss the exhibition at The Suzanne Geiss Company, opening September 7.

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