Roger and Mauricio Padhila, co-authors of The Stephen Sprouse Book, have launched another stunning visual art book featuring iconic fashion illustrator and photographer Antonio Lopez. A true fashion genius, Antonio was influential in his fashion-forward thinking but also in bringing non-traditional and ethnic models to the forefront of the industry. He was brash, unconventional, and daring and truly pushed the envelope. His sketches and ideas are still used by Art Directors and Photographers worldwide. We caught up with Roger and Mauricio at their offices of MAO PR, a firm focusing on edgy downtown designers.
Cannon: When did you first find out about Antonio Lopez? What are your first memories?
Roger Padhila: Mauricio and I have always been big fans of Antonio Lopez. Growing up in the 80s and being aspiring fashion students, you couldn’t help but know who Antonio was. Antonio in the 80s was as famous as someone like Karl Lagerfeld or Marc Jacobs is now.
Mauricio Padhila: There’s a whole series here of “candy girls” that he did. Antonio did Grace Jones and a bunch of other models and each one was in a candy wrapper, and they were popping out of it. And he was doing a whole photographic series of them and they came out amazing.
C: It is interesting that that is your first memory, because before Antonio was an illustrator, he was actually a photographer.
MP: Antonio discovered a lot of models, a lot of models that went on to become very famous such as Jessica Lange, Jerry Hall, Donna Jordan, Pat Cleveland. In the beginning, these girls were not exactly what Antonio wanted them to be. By drawing them and exaggerating them, the girls would then transform themselves into it.
RP: Well, one of the things that Antonio really brought to fashion was the sense of “kitsch” and Americana. When he moved to Paris in the 1970s, he started exploiting certain American themes such as Marilyn Monroe, Camel Cigarettes, Coca Cola, and Mickey Mouse. It was sort of taking the idea of America and really hyper inflating it.
C: He’s worked with everyone from Anna Piaggi to Grace Coddington to every single icon that’s legendary, not only today, but also in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.
RP: So many people that we talked to and asked how did you get your first job, how did you end up working in the fashion industry, [would] always go back and say, “Well, Antonio introduced me to a magazine,” or, “Antonio let me write my first article,” or, “Antonio hired me to style a shoot.” So he really [was] influential in picking out these people.
C: I love the story [of] how the cover of the book came to you [in] a dream.
MP: We were going back and forth with our publisher on which image would be on the cover, and nobody agreed with anything. And I went home and I was really stressed out. I had a very vivid dream. And in the dream, I was sitting down, Antonio was standing next to me at my window and he was wearing tan pants and a tan shirt and he handed me this piece of paper. And I looked down and there was the layout and there was the head with the model with the ribbons that extended onto the next page. And we came in the next day, did a quick markup, sent it over to Rizzoli and [they were] like, “Yes, absolutely, it’s great.”
C: Talk about Andre Leon Talley and how he got involved with the book.
RP: Andre Leon Talley was brought in to work with Antonio when Antonio was illustrating all of Charles James’ collections in the 70s. And they became very, very good friends. So we were honored when we asked him to write the forward and he immediately agreed, and gave us an incredible, touching forward with lots of personal anecdotes. I think another reason why Andre has always been a champion of Antonio’s work is that Antonio was one of the first to really push woman of color, as models in the fashion industry.
C: I love the story of when he was in Paris.
MP: When Antonio and his entourage went to Paris, they met Karl Lagerfeld. And Paris was still coming out of the 60s, and it was still very old fashioned in a weird way. And here were all these young groups of kids that were models, and illustrators, and designers. And they were dressing up in glamorous outfits, they were going to nightclubs, they were driven around in a limousine that Karl Lagerfeld had, they were staying in Karl’s apartment on Boulevard Saint-Germain, and pretty much, they were living the life and it brought back glamour to Europe.
RP: And it really put a spotlight on what American fashion is, American sense of style, and American sense of humor.
C: I know this has been a labor of love for quite sometime. How long did it take you to put everything together, and how did you begin the process?
RP: The actual book only took a year, but we’ve [been] preparing for this ever since we first saw Antonio’s work back in the 80s. The thing that Mauricio and I want to do is really spotlight underdogs, people that were highly influential in the street, but they may not have made the most money, or been the most commercial. Or in Antonio’s case, they may have passed the wave pre Internet.
C: What is your favorite image from the book?
RP: There is no way to pick an Antonio favorite image. Antonio was so prolific, he made thousands and hundreds of thousands of sketches and photographs that the 304 pages we have in our book really are what we feel are the quintessential Antonio images.
C: And what I love about the book is that there are so many images that are going to be available that will kind of reinvigorate how influential and how much a part of history he was in the fashion world.
MP: That’s what our goal is, to show him to a new generation and hopefully get everyone excited about him again. And hopefully this book will inspire everyone.
Edited by Izzy Ruiz.