The Best There Ever Was

Here is my latest article for Look Books, on the superb book Antonio - Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco. The book was edited by Mauricio and Roger Padilha, of MAO PR, for Rizzoli and is a must read. Read below or view the original by clicking here.


Antonio Lopez

Antonio Lopez’s name may sound foreign to you, or it may ring a bell or two, but you still won’t be able to place it. Maybe you won’t have heard of it at all. The brothers Mauricio and Roger Padilha hope to set the record straight with their book, Antonio - Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco (Rizzoli, 2012).

Antonio Lopez is one of, if not the most, famous and influential fashion illustrator to ever cross the earth. His world was inhabited by some of the world’s most brilliant and seductive creatures; from Halston, Karl Lagerfeld and Andy Warhol to Pat Cleveland, Jessica Lange and Jerry Hall. They were all struck by the innovative eye of Antonio Lopez. Alongside his lifelong creative partner, Juan Ramos, Antonio was able to give flight to his dreams and visions of beauty. Juan made it all possible, he put order to Antonio’s passion and gave it direction.

The importance and influence of this creative duo in the fashion and the art worlds, lives on and cannot be denied. For over three decades the work of Lopez and Ramos had transcended medias and hadn’t lived only on paper but in the collective conscience and daily life of fashionistas throughout the globe. Antonio and Juan put art and fashion side by side for the first time through the innovative and bold approach in their work, and soon enough there wouldn’t be a single living being who wasn’t touched by the end result of their creative efforts.

Antonio’s illustrations were featured on magazine covers, fashion editorials, advertising campaigns and even came to life on the runway, as clothes. Their visionary influence touched the likes of Anna Sui, Norma Kamali and Karl Lagerfeld. Those who crossed their paths would not leave their side and every day was treated as if it was an opening night at the most seductive club in town; life for these beautiful children of the world was a cabaret.

After creating the best selling art book of 2009, The Stephen Sprouse Book, the brothers Padilha took time to work in this remarkable book, that will transport you to a place in which everything that is beautiful, is possible. Here is what they have to say about their book.


How do you choose your subjects among so many interesting and enticing things to write about in fashion? 

Mauricio: Our motivation for the book, as with our previous tome on Stephen Sprouse, was to acknowledge and credit the work of an influential artist who seems to have been forgotten over the years. Antonio Lopez was one of the most famous and influential artists in the fashion world during the 60s, 70s, and 80s but it seemed that while his influence is still around, knowledge of him or his life was not prevalent.

Is this book also an homage to Juan Ramos, seeing as he was so present in Antonio’s life and work?

Roger: Absolutely. In the first chapter of the book, we very clearly state that "Antonio" was actually the work of two men working side by side. Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos met at F.I.T and worked together for 25 years. While Antonio was the genius illustrator, Juan was the one who directed the drawings and worked on the business end of things. Juan Ramos was integral to Antonio's success and they both made a decision early on to just publicize Antonio solely, but everything really was a collaboration between the two of them.

What do you hope to achieve with this book?

Mauricio: Growing up, we were both so inspired and awed by Antonio's work and we hope that future generations will get to experience the magic of his art. 

Roger: We also wanted to showcase Antonio as an artist and not just as a commercial illustrator. Aside from the illustrations, Antonio was a master photographer, a stylist, and also responsible for discovering many of the world's most famous faces such as Jerry Hall, Grace Jones, and Jessica Lange. He influenced many designers such  as Karl Lagerfeld and Norma Kamali and his influence is still being felt today.

Were there ever any difficulties when doing research for this book? I can imagine there was pretty vast material available...

Roger: Not too many. We were lucky to befriend Paul Caranicas who holds the rights to the Antonio Archives many years ago and he trusted us and knew that we were going to be respectful of the truth. Also, Juan Ramos outlived Antonio for 8 years and during this time he (among other things) organized the archives so we didn't have too much trouble identifying subjects or finding the most iconic images. The one difficulty was the vast amount of materials available to us. Everything Antonio did from a finished work to a doodle on a napkin was exquisite so it was difficult to edit down what we wanted to put in a book. We had 304 pages which we jam-packed with images but honestly we could do 10 books with the amazing work that is in the archives!

Does Antonio have any influence in your daily work?

Mauricio: Yes. Antonio lived his work. There was no real separation between his social life, personal life, and work life--it was all one and the same. And we to a certain extent behave the same; when you love what you do, you don't want it to end after you leave the office!

There was a fearless and daring quality to Antonio's work, who in your opinion has been doing the same thing over the past fifteen years?

Roger: There are so many talented people such as Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Rick Owens, the women behind Rodarte, Carine Roitfeld, Steven Klein; but they are all very specific and working within one field. There doesn't seem to be so many people who work in various medias doing the same thing. Maybe Madonna...

By breaking boundaries and pushing the envelope with his work, do you believe that Antonio was also a strong influencer in fashion and a trend setter?

Both: Absolutely! You tell us after seeing the book!