Chronicling the life and times of ground-breaking fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez, the film is also a documentation of New York’s vibrant and daring fashion and club scene in the 1970s. Featuring Grace Coddington, Joan Juliet Buck, Jessica Lange, the late and sorely missed Bill Cunningham, and Bob Colacello. Antonio Lopez was a gifted Puerto Rican fashion illustrator whose distinctive drawing skills were both admired and envied by fellow artists David Hockney and Andy Warhol. His time for resurgence is long overdue and this documentary will make you fall in love with the man and the decade he embodied. The 70’s you see in Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco by James Crump is not the dour one I remember from my early childhood. Instead it is ripe, languid, druggy, an explosion of colour and sexuality. Watching the incredible joie de vivre on the screen, I felt a profound sadness – this free behaviour, grabbing life with both hands and cramming it in (admittedly aided by a bunch of drugs) or choosing to waste whole days getting ready for a night at Max’s Kansas City just seems so out of reach now in our safe, work and health-obsessed lives. When did we become so boring? And who profits from it?
Lopez quickly became the darling of the big hitters in the magazine and fashion world, especially US Vogue, but decided to leave NYC for Paris when he became disheartened by the latter’s refusal to the use of Black models in his illustrations. It would have been interesting to hear from today’s US Vogue where they stand on that subject a mere 48 years later and just how relevant you can consider yourself if you consistently ignore change, but NYC’s loss was Paris’s gain –Karl Lagerfeld was quick to realise the creative genius of Lopez and his gang of sybarite, wild children who went on to revolutionise the conservative French couture houses.
I defy you not to fall for his charms – Lopez was one of those charismatic people who you just can’t stop looking at, someone who combined being the life of the party, a superb dancer and a very inclusive lover with being a sharp-eyed professional who spotted the modelling potential of Grace Jones and Jerry Hall amongst others. He sadly died of Aids in 1987.
Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco is out now in cinemas and on demand.
Words by Anna Bang
Tagsanna bang, Antonio Lopez, Bill Cunningham, Grace Coddington, grace jones, James Crump, Jerry Hall, Jessica Lange, Joan Juliet Buck,