‘I had a wild crush on Antonio,’ says Jessica Lange. ‘Didn’t everybody?’ Apparently so: the cohorts of the late Vogue and New York Times fashion illustrator are lining up to rave about him for this colourful documentary.
Antonio Lopez, who was taken by Aids at only 44, was a Puerto Rican New Yorker with a talent for drawing fashion models – and a talent for drawing creative beauties into his inner circle. Just keeping up with the chronologically of the bed-hopping is a challenge for both filmmakers and viewers. Bisexual with a bias towards men, the ‘voracious’ artist lived with his erstwhile lover and creative partner Juan Eugene Ramos, while rolling in the hay with a series of models including Jerry Hall.
Hall doesn’t contribute but is featured in fascinating vintage video footage, and for all the Halls and Grace Joneses that don’t appear in the commentary, there are plenty of other former models happy to describe blissful fashion shoots that ended up in nightclubs and beds. While it’s entertaining, there’s perhaps too much time devoted to his affairs: his working life is equally intriguing, as briefly detailed by the late great photographer Bill Cunningham, who observes that the ‘rascals’ Juan and Antonio would submit illustrations right before the print deadline, so the editors couldn’t make any changes.
The art itself is fun: elegant, stylised illustrations that track the shift from couture to ready-to-wear – although apparently watching the man draw was even more impressive. Even in the rare glimpses of Lopez in video, it’s hard to see quite how this moustached fellow was considered the most charismatic man in town. But this in itself gives insight into the cult of celebrity within the ’70s fashion/pop art set. Towards the end of the film, writer and Warhol cohort Bob Colacello adds welcome bursts of cultural comment, noting that when the set migrated from New York to Paris, they observed that nobody gave dinner parties for people. ‘Andy always said: “Oh Bob, Paris is so different because, in Paris, they give dinners against people. They give dinner parties just so they can leave somebody out”.’ One imagines that Antonio Lopez was always invited.