Fiery, Fierce And Fearless – Fashion Illustrations by Tony Viramontes
by Marina Rybak
The trail-blazing star of Tony Viramontes brightens the skies once again, spotlighting hand-drawn fashion illustration during the Instagram-obsessed fashion month of September. Fashion illustration on the center stage is quite timely.
Viramontes was hailed as a creative visionary during his meteoric life. His prolific artistic talent unfolded in the late 70’s and 80’s, seizing intense vibrancy and the glamorous pulse of the era. He collaborated with renowned fashion, music and pop culture icons of the time and his illustrations appeared in the editorials and ad campaigns worldwide.
Inspired by Egon Schiele, Viramontes charcoal angular line smoldered, accentuated with a lush splash of color. It was direct, graphic and decisive. It seems his models were portrayed a breath away from erotic meltdown – tough, alluring, wrapped in transgender ambiguity. His energetic style was fluid, spontaneous and emotionally seductive. And to add a personal perspective, the illustrations are still impactful – haunting and mesmerizing.
An early victim of the AIDS crisis, his artistic contribution was under radar for few decades, but finally it is enjoying a well-deserved Renaissance.
For the first time his vast body of work and his influential legacy is celebrated in the book Bold, Beautiful and Damned: The World of 1980s Fashion Illustrator Tony Viramontes (Laurence King Publishing), by Dean Rhys Morgan. The book is coming out in October, but is available for sale now exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman. To coincide with the launch the store has paid a tribute to the artist with the window displays during New York Fashion Week. And prestigious Galleria Carla Sozzani of 10 Corso Como in Milan is hosting an exhibit of his illustrations through November 3.
“Draw for yourself, paint for yourself, take photographs for yourself,
you will love them much more”
Tony Viramontes… from ‘Bold, Beautiful and Damned’ by Dean Rhys Morgan