Thursday, 8 November 2012

Antonio Lopez & Juan Eugene Ramos: A Tribute

I get inspired by so many things; art, music, movies, television, books, even magazines and blogs. Not too long ago, I came across a fashion photograph of Grace Jones as a candy bar in V Magazine (the issue with Nicole Kidman on the cover-V79 Fall 2012). It immediately transported me back to my childhood and the first time I saw it. I couldn't remember the magazine, but I do remember where I saw it. It was in 1979 and my mom was in a salon getting her hair done. I was sitting in the chair, with a stack of fashion magazines. As I was flipping through them, I was stunned by the picture. Not only was it the first time that I was enamored by Grace Jones (since then I made it a point to find as much as I can on her), but the whole concept of the photo took me to another place. It was one of those kinds of photos that you would want to have on your wall (I REALLY wanted it, Mother was not having it) and yet no one would get it. This was one of the many keys that opened the door to the glamorous world of fashion for me.
This photo came from a visionary, unlike any other. An amazing illustrator that could find the beauty anywhere and make the world see it. Whether he drew it, or photographed it, he brought it to life in the beautiful people that he knew. He discovered quite a few very interesting models and they became known in the beginning as Antonio's Girls.
His name is Antonio Lopez and his collaborator and close friend, Juan Eugene Ramos.
Antonio Lopez was born in Utuado, Puerto Rico on February 11th, 1943. His mother was a seamstress and his father, a mannequin maker. He moved to New York at the age of 7 and grew up in the Bronx. To keep her son off of the streets, his mother had him draw flowers for her embroideries and they encouraged his talent for drawing. Although, he thought he would be a dancer when he was a teenager, he realized that drawing was his first love and his parents influenced him to apply his artistic talents to fashion, so he attended the High School of Art & Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology. While attending F.I.T., he began an internship at Women's Wear Daily. He eventually left school when he was offered a full time position there. After that, he went to work for the New York Times. His main collaborator was Juan Eugene Ramos. Juan was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico on January 4, 1942. At the age of 6, he migrated to New York with his two younger siblings. After graduating from Seward Park High School, he went to Fashion Institute of Technology. While there, he met and formed a lifelong friendship and collaborating partner in art and business with Antonio Lopez. While Antonio was more the creative, Juan was more of the business guy. He was also a creative, providing research, inspiration, and organization. Juan was instrumental in arranging for Antonio to give lectures and workshops to teach all that he knew to the next generation. The two, suave and handsome Puerto Ricans moved to Paris in 1969 and they lived in Karl Lagerfeld's Paris apartment (Karl was designing for Celine at this time) and they stayed there until the mid 1970's.
Eija Vehka Aho, Juan Ramos, Jacques de Bascher, Karl Lagerfeld, and Antonio Lopez.
Antonio and Juan discovered a few of the amazing models of the time. They discovered Jerry Hall (whom Antonio was engaged to for a short time), Grace Jones, Jessica Lange (who was studying mime in Paris at the time), Tina Chow, Paloma Picasso (who was a jewelry designer as well), Tina Chow, Pat Cleveland (an eccentric model, more well known as one of Halston's Girls) and fashion photographer, Bill Cunningham.
Antonio and Juan were all about beauty and fun and they were so full of life!!! Antonio's illustrations were always fun and glamorous. He did ad campaigns for Valentino and Missoni and portfolios for many different men's magazines.
It was always about fashion, music, fun and art and a mixture of high and low. Everything was about being unique, being different, standing out and being fashionable. This was the fashion world that I was drawn to whenever I would see his illustrations or photos in the magazines. His work took him all over the world.
Sadly, Antonio passed away from AIDS at the age of 44 on March 17, 1987. Juan also passed away from AIDS in 1995 on November 2. He was 53. When the two of them passed on, they passed on in the midst of other artists like Tommy Nutter, Robert Mapplethorpe, Keith Haring, but like each of them they left a legacy that only a few know about. Although many may not remember or many from that time are gone, I remember all that they have done like it was yesterday because they were the ones that brought the fashion world to me and they created the world that I've always wanted to be a part of; night clubs, amazing fashion, fun, and tons of amazing talent. That was the world that made sense to me!!!
In September there was a book released with a lot of published and unpublished illustrations or photos. The book is called: Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco. The clover looks amazing and I can't wait to get this book into my hands. Check it out if you can!!!! I know I will!!!!
Stay fashionable and sexy!!!!!

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