Antonio Lopez: Future, Funk, Fashion
June 14 – November 26, 2016
This exhibition explored various aspects of the work of fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez (1943–1987), developing thematic sections that focus on high fashion illustration, his relationship to particular models, his shoe and jewelry designs, and images of people he came to know and love from the streets of New York City.
Antonio Lopez was born in Utuado, Puerto Rico on February 11, 1943. The family migrated to New York City when Antonio was seven and he attended P.S. 77 on East 104th Street. To keep her son off the streets, Lopez’s mother, a seamstress, would ask him to draw flowers for her embroideries. He also helped his father, a mannequin maker, to apply make-up and stitch wigs on the figures. At the age of twelve, Lopez earned a scholarship to the prestigious Traphagen School of Fashion in New York, which provided Saturday programs for children. He went on to attend the High School of Art and Design. Upon graduation, Lopez was accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Lopez went on to illustrate fashions for Women’s Wear Daily and The New York Times and eventually became a freelance artist for many of the top fashion publications, including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Andy Warhol’s Interview. He is known to have “discovered” or formed lasting friendships with women like Pat Cleveland, Tina Chow, Jerry Hall, Grace Jones and Jessica Lange. He collaborated with the noted designer Charles James, creating an illustrated inventory of Charles’ fashion designs (now in the collection of the Chicago History Museum). With his friend and business partner, Juan Ramos, Lopez moved to Paris where they both worked with Karl Lagerfeld and many other designers.
Through his work, Lopez made great strides in exploring and representing the ethnic or racialized body within the world of high fashion. His imagery helped to develop and underscore a new canon of beauty throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He died in New York of complications related to AIDS on March 17, 1987 at the age of 44.