This Thursday the BFI's London Film Festival is hosting the world premiere of the groundbreaking documentary, Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco, which follows the iconic work of the late fashion illustrator. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City before moving to Paris, Lopez was instrumental in the fashion world from the mid 1960s to the late 1980s. He worked and partied with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Grace Jones and Jerry Hall, and watched the rise of Andy Warhol. In other words, as the fashion world transformed into what it is today, Antonio Lopez was at the very centre.

 Jessica Lange, New York, 1975
Photo: Antonio Lopez / Courtesy of the Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos

Hugely industrious, Lopez produced thousands of photos, drawings, short films and polaroids over his career. He brought real sex appeal and a vision of street life to a form that had been stale, pale, and repressed. As Donna Jordan (one of Lopez' muses) tells it, "Having beauty just wasn’t enough, you had to have an incredible personality, sexiness and a chicness that would appeal to Antonio." It comes as no surprise then, that his work for fashion houses such as Chloé, Yves Saint Laurent and Versace was forever gracing the pages of the New York Times, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and changing the state of play.

 Tina Chow, London, 1970s
Photo: Antonio Lopez / Courtesy of the Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos

The film follows his work through the late sixties and early seventies, with Lopez' unique talent shining through via interviews, pictures, and archive footage shot by Juan Ramos and Bill Cunningham. Director James Crump sets this all to an upbeat disco soundtrack, reviving a hedonistic energy and celebrating the spirit of queer liberation and racial equality that came to define the nightclubs of the time. But this sense of utopianism does not shy away from the harsher realities of Lopez’ life and contemporary society. Long-standing rivalries in the fashion world, the Vietnam War, and the looming AIDS crisis – a crisis Lopez would eventually fall victim to – are addressed with candour, revealing a powerful and unmissable portrait of a man and culture.

More information can be found here