When it comes to the world of fashion, there’s very little in the way of a “sexuality rulebook.” From Gia Carangi to Robert Mapplethorpe (who put “outsider sex” on the map for mainstream photoshoots), those who orbited the sartorial and art photography scene played it fast and loose with regard to what gender they fancied in the moment (and for what purpose). One could even argue that Bill Cunningham’s defiant lack of sexuality was yet another rogue element of the New York tableau of haute and street couture.
So is it really any surprise that Puerto Rican-born Antonio Lopez would play–and prosper–by the same lack of rules? Living out a certain Cinderella’s tale of ascension into the illustration and print publication realm at a young age, Lopez segued from attending school at FIT to an internship for the bible of female clothing, Women’s Wear Daily. His swift climb on the ladder of influence only persisted after landing a job at The New York Times, illustrating designs by “America’s First Couturier,” Charles James and then picking up and leaving for Paris in 1969 with the man who would become his most steady significant other, Juan Ramos. He soon fell in with Karl Lagerfeld while in Paris, the mack daddy of a gay man’s anointment into fashion, and began developing an eye for discovering models and actresses like Jerry Hall and Jessica Lange (who, in typical badass form, was studying to be a mime when Lopez first met her).
These and other conquests are the subject of a new documentary about the life and sexual antics of Lopez, called Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco—which, incidentally, also sounds like it could be an exhibit at the Museum of Sex. James Crump’s explorative feature comes thirty years after Lopez died of AIDS at the too young age of forty-four. Its timeliness also pertains to just how lacking the innovation and flair for foresight in fashion trends and illustration truly are at the moment. And it was this cutting-edge approach to his work that quite obviously spread into his technique in the boudoir as well.
Perhaps it is ultimately one’s bisexuality that helps contribute to their creativity as a sexual partner. Or maybe Lopez simply saw art in every form he came into contact with. It’s difficult to know what, exactly, made him so tantalizing to the women who served as his muses—but one has a hunch it stemmed from his oral attentiveness to a certain body part that most straight men tend to neglect. Though Juan Ramos was Lopez’s longtime partner, it didn’t mean Lopez wasn’t wont to wield his seemingly irresistible kama sutra-oriented talents on other people, gender be damned. It was all about beauty for him.