Please wait, loading in progress...


Tony Viramontes may not be a household name, but you've undoubtedly seen his work.

Tony Viramontes may not be a household name, but you've undoubtedly seen his work. One of the all-time-great fashion illustrators, his expressionistic drawings shook up the genre, replacing soft strokes of pastel with bold color, a strong sense of line, and most striking of all, women with discernible edge. The faces Viramontes conjured for his series of Valentino campaigns in the 1980s looked like thinking beings, with the strong points-of-view befitting a client of Valentino couture. Sometimes you didn't even need to see the face to comprehend the attitude: One of Viramontes' most indelible works was drawing of a woman seen from behind, her spine revealed by her backless, Valentino dress. The counterpoint of night-owl blues and blacks and signature Valentino red, and the contrapposto of the figure's angled hips suffice to summon this being, mysterious though she is.


Viramontes didn't like to be called an illustrator. Born in Los Angeles in 1956, and well into his groundbreaking career by the age of 25, Viramontes considered himself an "artistic creator." In his collaboration with the house of Valentino, he infused the designer's soigné looks with a New Wave aesthetic and sensibility very much of its time. Proof of his rare talent is that his drawings still resonate: Like Valentino's classic looks, they don't date. And though Viramontes' career was cut short by his untimely death in 1988, he lives on both in his works, and his influence. Thanks to his innovation, fashion illustration was forever changed.

SHARE: Facebook Twitter