Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco

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Reviewed by: Anne-Katrin Titze

Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion & Disco
"Kindness and joy not always come to mind when one thinks of the fashion world. This is the rare portrait where they do. As the documentary unfolds, we marvel at the diversity, the celebratory mood."

"Magical", "cat-like", "irresistible", "so sexy", "extremely seductive", "wide-open and free as a bird" and "an incredible flirt" - this is how Antonio Lopez is described. Folks were "mesmerised" by his "magnetism", had a "wild crush on him" or were "absolutely crazy about him".

In Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco, we see the master illustrator breathe in his inspiration and exhale it onto the paper in front of him. He was an extremely physical creator, his friends point out. James Crump's tumultuously entertaining journey through the fashion world of the late Sixties, early Seventies lets us discover a man far too few know about. The director of Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe and Troublemakers: The Story Of Land Art does a splendid job of making the predominantly still images of Lopez come to life.

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Kindness and joy not always come to mind when one thinks of the fashion world. This is the rare portrait where they do. As the documentary unfolds, we marvel at the diversity, the celebratory mood.

The illustrious circles (definitely plural) of friends of Antonio Lopez are shown through archival footage and interviews that include Jessica Lange, Grace Jones, Jerry Hall, Donna Jordan, Bill Cunningham, Pat Cleveland, Jane Forth, Corey Tippin, Grace Coddington, Patti D’Arbanville, Karl Lagerfeld, Joan Juliet Buck, Bob Colacello, Paul Caranicas, and Juan Ramos. They each give us impressions of the man they all so clearly loved.

The late great Bill Cunningham is seen here in his last on-camera interview in a pink shirt only he could make work. The New York Times photographer, who found Lopez and his art director and creative partner Juan Ramos an apartment in Carnegie Hall (they became his neighbours and neighbours of Norman Mailer there) talks about their close friendship while tears come to his eyes.

Cunningham was the one who introduced Lopez to couturier Charles James (an inspiration for Daniel Day-Lewis's character in Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread) and his obese beagle Sputnik. At The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute in 2014, Charles James: Beyond Fashion was exhibited in the newly named Anna Wintour Costume Center with First Lady Michelle Obama doing the honors of cutting the ribbon for the opening.

We learn from Pat Cleveland, who was an early inspiration for André Leon Talley, what Lopez was like at Parsons in 1968 and what went on around the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. Grace Coddington explains how much Antonio was influenced by people on the street and that drawing was his "narrative fantasy." She calls him an "amazing stylist" who taught her, the queen of stylists, a lot.

There's a reminder about the no-eyebrow look and we hear about the competing tables at Max's Kansas City, where Antonio, Juan, and their muses rivaled Andy Warhol's corner in coolness and flair. Antonio adored selecting looks for his friends. Jessica Lange recalls her infatuation - "and when I say I had a crush on him, I mean it!" She remembers fondly how "he loved to dress me up and then we'd go out." A pastime echoed by two others, Jane Forth and Donna Jordan.

The gang moved from New York to Paris, continued the feast with Karl Lagerfeld who was eager to soak up new inspiration while working at Chloé. The difference between the cities, you ask? Unlike the Americans who throw parties for people, "the French give dinner parties against someone." The fun doesn't seem to end - until it does.

Film clips from Bertrand Bonello's Saint Laurent, Pierre Thoretton's L'Amour Fou, and - an especially rare treat - Andy Warhol's L'Amour '73, which features Lagerfeld as an actor, add some spice.

From Grace Jones to Jerry Hall, everyone admits to having fallen under his spell. Lacan says the object-cause of desire is the imperfection. That's what we're drawn to. It is the thing that you think disturbs you. It isn't. Take that away and the desire is gone. Perhaps some of the magic lies in the fact that perfection in the conventional sense did not interest Antonio Lopez. He was looking for the little flaws that make someone all the more enticing.

Reviewed on: 01 Apr 2018
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Documentary about the fashion illustrator.


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