Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Antonio's Girl

Yesterday I posted about the brand new, previously unreleased Betty Davis CD Is It Love Or Desire, which is now in stores. Here's a sample:

Betty Davis Is It Love Or Desire mp3 [via Light in the Attic]

Today I'm posting about the other new Betty Davis release that came out this week: her third album, Nasty Gal. I didn't do a ton of design work on this one (other than the booklet) because it's a re-issue of a classic album that Betty released in 1975 – but I wanted to post about the illustrator of the front and back covers.

Antonio Lopez in the Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, ca.1975

Antonio Lopez was arguably the most influential fashion illustrator of all time, inspiring fellow artists from the 1960s up to his death in 1987 (from complications related to AIDS), and on up through the present. Here's a small sampling of his other work:

Antonio Lopez illustrations for British Vogue, ca.1960s

A 1967 drawing, and a 1973 drawing for Andy Warhol's Interview magazine

Brigitte Bardot by Lopez for the cover of Interview, 1975

In the 1960s, Lopez, who had emigrated to New York from Puerto Rico with his family as a child, went to the Fashion Institute of Technology and shortly thereafter rose up quickly as a star illustrator for fashion magazines such as Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. In 1969 he moved to Paris with his long-time partner and fellow F.I.T. grad Juan Ramos.

Jerry Hall, ca. 1975, by Antonio Lopez

Jerry Hall moved out of the apartment she shared with Grace Jones and in with Antonio and Juan. It must have been quite a scene.

Jacques de Bascher and Karl Lagerfeld, photo by Antonio Lopez

Lopez opened a salon with his good friend Karl Lagerfeld – a hang-out for various models and people in fashion society, and a place where Lopez taught workshops on illustration and American pop art. Somewhere along the line he met Betty Davis. Antonio photographed Betty and worked with her on the album cover for Nasty Gal.

It's crazy to me, imagining this miniature cultural eruption – a gay Puerto Rican artist, an explosive black soul singer ex-wife of Miles Davis, a Texas-girl supermodel with Bryan Ferry in the wings, a German expat fashion genius on the rise, Grace Jones and Jean-Paul Goude doing their thing – all of them trading inspiration and creative pursuits. The influence that emanated out of those years could fill up its own blog, and then some.

Jerry Hall and Antonio Lopez in their Paris apartment, ca.1975, by Norman Parkinson

Eventually returning to New York in the late '70s, Lopez continued to design for magazines, as well as for Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Fiorucci, and Studio 54. He published a few different books, the most sought-after being Antonio's Girls (1983).

One of Antonio's many "Shoe Metamorphosis" drawings, ca.1978

Antonio Lopez continues to be a major force in fashion illustration. I can't say I love everything he did in the '80s – I just happen to prefer his earlier work – but at this point it's all classic. The cover for Betty Davis' Nasty Gal – similar to the style he perfected for the covers of so many Interview magazines – is a favorite of mine, and there is no doubt Lopez deserves his status as an underground legend.

A memorial from Bloomingdale's that ran in The New York Times when Lopez died, and a drawing for Saks ca.late-'70s.

Visit artnet for more images and info on Antonio Lopez.

Head over to for more info and/or to order Nasty Gal and Is It Love Or Desire, the new CDs from Betty Davis.


Anonymous said...

pictured with Karl Lagerfeld is Jacques de Bascher (not Antonio)

Strath said...

Oops, thank you – I fixed the caption.

Anonymous said...


Can you please contact me? I work at FIT and I'd like to do an article on Davis, including Lopez's work (and Stephen Burrows, mentioned in the Times article, also from FIT)...

My contact info:

phone: 212 217-4708


Anonymous said...

Alex, were you by any chance the same Alex who posted the clip on youtube of Juan speaking of his work with Lopez?