Antonio Lopez

1943–1987

Antonio Lopez was born in Utuado, Puerto Rico. His family migrated to New York City when Antonio was seven and he attended P.S. 77 on East 104th Street. To keep her son off the streets, Lopez’s mother, a seamstress, would ask him to draw flowers for her embroideries. He also helped his father, a mannequin maker, to apply makeup and stitch wigs onto the figures. At the age of twelve, Lopez earned a scholarship to the prestigious Traphagen School of Fashion in New York, an institution that provided Saturday programs for children. He then attended the High School of Art and Design. Upon graduation, Lopez was accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Lopez went on to illustrate fashions for Women’s Wear Daily and The New York Times and eventually became a freelance artist for many of the top fashion publications, including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Andy Warhol’s Interview. He is known to have “discovered” women like Pat Cleveland, Tina Chow, Jerry Hall, Grace Jones and Jessica Lange. He collaborated with the noted designer Charles James, creating an illustrated inventory of Charles’ fashion designs (now in the collection of the Chicago History Museum). With his partner, Juan Ramos, Lopez moved to Paris where they both worked with Karl Lagerfeld and many other designers.

Through his work, Lopez made great strides in exploring and representing the racialized body within the world of high fashion. His imagery helped to develop and underscore a new canon of beauty throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Antonio Lopez died in New York of complications related to AIDS on March 17, 1987 at the age of 44. This tribute page was created by Visual AIDS.