Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion, and Disco” is a documentary-based film that explores the colorful and extravagant life of fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez. Created by James Crump, the movie gives viewers an insight into the fashion and arts industries of New York and Paris in the 70s, as told through the eyes of Lopez’s contemporaries such as Grace Coddington, Bill Cunningham, Michael Chow, and Pat Cleveland. While the film does examine the technical aspects of Lopez’s life, the biggest lesson that the film has to teach us is the importance of living life uniquely and without fear.
Born in Puerto Rico but raised in the Bronx, Lopez’s life was exciting from the start. Surrounded by the seduction and glamour of the streets of New York, the illustrator quickly evolved into a confident and suave young man inspired to fulfill the thirst for creativity and diversity lacking in the city within the post-war period. His fashion illustrations grew from the distinct beauty of the muses he encircled himself with, and his drawings soon began to grace the pages of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and The New York Times. Crump includes footage of Lopez and his friends roaming the streets of New York and going out at night to the infamous Max’s Kansas City and Hotel Chelsea. All dressed in bright, revealing garments and donned with artistic makeup, his posse thrived in the exciting and urban vibe of the city.
In 1969, Lopez chose to embark on a journey to Paris to explore the culture of the city, as well as to foster his own growth as an illustrator by surrounding himself with the collections of the newest European fashion houses. He quickly grew close with Karl Lagerfeld, the designer for Chloe, and the duo and their friends dove deep into the Parisian fantasy of love, possibility, and creation. Crump considers the intimate relationships Lopez cultivated with makeup artist Juan Ramos and Karl Lagerfeld, as well as the group’s rivalry with Yves Saint Laurent’s crowd within the social scene of the fashion industry at the time.
Everything within this era of fashion and the arts seemed possible. The intensity of such personality and collaboration inspired a time in which self-expression was expected and individuality a necessity. Lopez and his contemporaries pursued their passions without fear, and thus inspired a movement in which ambition and decadence were deemed normal. Their success grew from their confidence in who they were as unique persons, and although they were enveloped in a world of drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, and war, they thrived nonetheless. These aspects of Lopez and those he surrounded himself with should inspire us today. We often get lost in adhering to the pressure of fitting in and conforming to trends; however now more than ever we should embrace our distinctiveness.
Antonio Lopez eventually died of AIDS, but his legacy lives on. Crump’s film “Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion, and Disco” is both inspirational and informative, and brings a bright energy to the world of film today. The documentary is not yet available online, but the trailer can be found here.
Article by: Ellie Kim, Writer at SOUL