El Museo Del Barrio Presents Antonio Lopez: Future Funk Fashion

On Monday evening, El Museo del Barrio (www.elmuseo.org) held a champagne reception in celebration of the life and work of Antonio Lopez, and their new exhibition, Antonio Lopez: Future Funk Fashion (June 14 – November 26). It was made possible by generous support from Tony Bechara (who told me he had fought for this exhibition for years),

Tony Bechara

The Colby foundation, and through public support from New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. The late Puerto Rican born artist and fashion illustrator pushed the envelope, heralded a new canon of beauty in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and routinely explored race, ethnicity, body, and gender. He died of complications related to AIDS on March 17, 1987 at the age of 44.

Museum Director Jorge Daniel Veneciano

The timing, one day after the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and more poignantly, the senseless massacre of 49 innocent souls (and the wounding of over 53) at a nightclub frequented by gay Latinos in Orlando, Florida, was not lost on me. And it was not lost on Museum Director Jorge Daniel Veneciano. When he made his welcoming remarks during the course of a press preview, he was quick to say, “Make no mistake about it, this is an LBGT event”.

Antonio protege Alvaro in a jacket of his own design

He went on to note that the museum, the city’s only Latino museum dedicated to Latin American, Cuban, Puerto Rican art, located in East Harlem (Fifth Avenue at 104th Street) is all about the celebration of creativity; the legacy left by Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos, and the creative community stands in solidarity with the victims and their families. He also stated that while this may be the first fashion related exhibition in the museum’s 45 year history, he promised it won’t be the last.

Photograph of Pat Cleveland, Karl Lagerfeld and Antonio  Lopez

Also on hand to make their remarks were the curators, Aranda-Alvardo and scholar Amelia Malagamba-Ansoltegui, who have focused on Lopez’s prolific three decade career on the New York fashion scene and more specifically, his working relationship with lifelong business partner Juan Ramos who died of AIDS in 1995. The duo moved to Paris where they worked with Karl Lagerfeld, and many other designers and there was one room filled with fabulous photos and memorabilia from that era. A quote from Karl Lagerfeld was on the wall, written in large print for all to see: “In 1969, when they moved to Paris, they brought something to Europe and to Parisian fashion that was not there before. They brought sparkle.” Sparkle they did!

Drawings made for The New York Times “Fashions of the Times”
1961- 1964

There are over 150 works represented and they are divided into thematic sections: his relationship with particular models, his shoe and jewelry designs, images of people he came to know from the streets of New York, his high fashion illustrations. Antonio illustrated fashion for Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Interview and The New York Times among others.

Antonio Lopez inspired design made of paper
by Parsons students 2016

His sketches and ideas are still being referenced to this day by art directors and photographers. In addition, he collaborated with Charles James and illustrated all his collections in the 70’s; inspired Anna Sui’s spring summer 2012 fashion collection and Marc Jacobs’ “One Thousand and One Nights” party. His close circle of friends included the photographer Bill Cunningham; in 1966 Antonio introduced him to photographer David Montgomery who gave him his first camera and the rest is, well, history.

Pat Cleveland

He discovered Jerry Hall, Marisa Berenson, Grace Jones, Tina Chow, and Pat Cleveland (referred to as “Antonio’s Girls”), the latter of whom was on hand last night. I enjoyed meeting her in-laws, the Van Ravensteins, who came all the way from Amsterdam to be at last Thursday’s soiree in celebration of Pat’s new memoir “Walking with the Muses”. They are owners of an eponymous high end women’s boutique, located in Amsterdam, which sells Dries Van Noten, Junya Watanabe, Ann Demeulemeeter, Vetements, Bernhard Wilhelm, J.W. Anderson etc

Mrs. Van Ravenstein in a vintage  Balenciaga shirt

.Mrs. Van Ravenstein apparently took the theme of the evening to heart with her vintage, bold, art inspired Balenciaga shirt designed by Nicolas Ghesquiere. Other colorfully clad guests who got their “Fashion Funk” going were Patrick McDonald, Valerie (“The Idiosyncratic Fashionista”), and Alvaro, an Antonio Lopez protégé who was wearing a jacket of his own design printed with names of artists.

Narciso Rodriguez, Maria Eugeny Maury, Isabel & Ruben Toledo

Among those in attendance : Rocio Aranda-Alvarado, (exhibition co-curator), Tony Bechara (artist and El Museo Chairman Emeritus), Paul Caranicas (Director of The Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos), James Crump (filmmaker and art historian), Amelia Malagamba (Co-curator of Exhibition), Maria Eugenia Maury (Chairwoman of El Museo), fashion designers Narciso Rodriguez, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, Victor de Souza, Jean Shafiroff (Philanthropist), Alvinia Bridges (one of Antonio’s Girls) Joey Arias (Performance artist, cabaret singer, and drag artist).

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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