MASTERS AT WORK & PLAY
A Conversation with MAURICIO & ROGER PADILHA from MAO PR on the Launch Of Their Highly Anticipated New Book: Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco
By Marie Havens
I first met Mauricio and Roger Padilha over a decade over. They were cool and edgy publicists; I was a young and eager photographer. I remember their all-black showroom on lower Broadway, and I remember photographing them at every great fashion party. They always greeted me with multiple hugs and kisses. I loved them then, and I love them now.
To say they are still going strong is an understatement. In fact, they have created one of the most well-known PR agencies in New York City: producing fashion shows and carefully overseeing the paths of all their hot, young designers. But they’ve always been more than fashion publicists, and they’ve always loved more than fashion: they truly loved pop culture, New York City nightlife (including all its legendary cast of characters and creatures of the night), legendary artists and performers, and underground musicians. They became masters of not only PR and nightlife, but of re-discovering the lost archives of underground pop artists like Stephen Sprouse and legendary illustrator Antonio Lopez–helping their work to be published, noticed, and experienced on a mainstream level. So on the eve of their new book launch, I was absolutely thrilled to interview Mauricio and Roger for PMc Magazine.
Marie Havens: Hi boys!
Mauricio & Roger Padilha: Hey Marie! Always such a pleasure speaking with you! We are such fans of Patrick’s and, of course, of the work you did on his so8os book! We are lucky to be friends with both of you.
MH: Thanks, likewise. And let me just say congratulations on the completion of your new book, Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco (Rizzoli, 2012)! How did you both get involved with such an incredible project focusing on such an amazing artist?
RP: Well, both Mauricio and I have loved Antonio’s work since we were young, aspiring fashion students in the 80s. We were mesmerized by his work in Vanity, American Vogue, the ads for Bloomingdales and Norma Kamali, etc. We had a chance to do an article on Antonio for our magazine MAO MAG a few years ago and through that became very close to Paul Caranicas (who is in charge of the Antonio Lopez archives) as well as Antonio models such as Corey Tippen, Jane Forth, and Pat Cleveland. We always knew in the back of our minds that we wanted to do an Antonio book which showcases his work in a different way to the new generation, and it was a process to gain everyone’s trust. Antonio’s associates are to this day rightfully very protective of his legacy and we just had to make sure that they understood that our intentions were honorable.
MH: I always say the story of how a book is made is nearly as interesting as the subject itself! So please take us through your creation process. What did it take to get this book developed, designed and published?
MP: Well, once we convinced Rizzoli to get on board, we wanted to select an art director who truly understood Antonio. And we approached Marc Balet, the former art director of Andy Warhol’s Interview who knew and worked with Antonio. From there, we went through the archives and looked at the many thousands of illustrations, photographs, diaries, letters, agendas, date books, etc. and edited it down to what we felt would be appropriate for the book. This process took hours and hours and was so hard, as everything in the archives is amazing. Editing is the hardest part.
RP: And at night I would stay up til all hours of the night constructing the writing. Antonio’s life was not very linear–he was constantly working on multiple projects at once, and changing his style between jobs, that it was difficult to put his life into a chronological order. Also, his life was as interesting as his work and really informed his art so it was important to put all that in as well. So in the end I decided to section the writing by decade, and within the decade really pull out his greatest achievements and divide the chapters into that format.
MH: After doing so much research, is there anything that the world still doesn’t know about Antonio Lopez…
MP: Our hope is that our book is the tip of the iceberg that encourages people to really learn more about this master, but our book really uncovers so much. You will grasp a great understanding of Antonio as well as fashion during the 60s, 70s, and 80s by the time you are done with our book!
MH: Well, ironically there isn’t too much I know about your upbringing/childhoods and I’ve known you for so long! Perhaps we should do a book on how two brothers from New York City created a PR empire? Tell me your story…
RP: The funny thing is that Mauricio and I planned and studied for years as students for something we didn’t ultimately do but informs our work everyday, and that’s what is different about us and our PR company. We are brothers originally from New York (our parents immigrated to the the States from Brazil shortly before we were born) and we were just obsessed with fashion and art from a very early age. We took every art class we could, spending our weekends at the FIT high school program as well as taking Sunday classes at the Met. And any other free time, we would be at Bloomingdales, Fiorucci, Patricia Field, etc. just studying clothing and designers as well as devouring every fashion publication we could get our hands on. We both went to Parsons to study fashion design and serendipitously fell into Fashion PR and Production after I had a clothing line called Spooky which closed. We were lucky in that there was a niche open for young designers. We seized that opportunity, and we became known for discovering new talent such as Peter Som and Jason Wu.
MH: Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco is officially your second book. The first being, The Stephen Sprouse Book (Rizzoli, 2010), which we loved, of course, being that Patrick had such a close relationship with Stephen. Was that process similar to that of making the Antonio book? I suppose you learn quite a bit after making your first book?
MP: Yes, making a book is such a different process than anything else we have ever done. But we were told very early in life by our parents that we could do anything so I suppose that our main advantage for a lot of the things we do is NERVE! We just jump in and do things and learn from our mistakes.
MH: Is there a new book in the works? Or a future project or subject you’d love to dive into?
RP: Yes, and the next book will blow everyone away, but you’ll have to wait to find out what it’s about!
MH: Well, as far as this book goes: André Leon Talley wrote the forward…amazing! What was it like collaborating with such a fashion god?
MP: Gosh, that was so major–as well as having Anna Sui, one of our heroes, write the epilogue. People have been so supportive and generous to us that we really have to pinch ourselves everyday!
MH: You both are 24/7–running a PR company, managing the careers of numerous hot designers/brands, producing fashion shows, actively on social media, attending parties, publishing books–how do you (if ever) relax?
RP: One of the things you will learn from our book is that there was no separation between work and life for Antonio Lopez–everything fed off of each other. And that’s how it is with Mauricio and I. Even when we want to blow off some steam and go to a nightclub and drink with friends, we invariably run into a fashion editor or a stylist or a potential client or hear a song which would be good for a show or…you get the picture. It’s always work, but we love it, and one day when you take a look back at all of our shows and books and clients, you’ll get a pretty good sense of who the both of us are. It’s all there in the work.
After years of working in the fashion industry separately and together, brothers Mauricio and Roger Padilha launched MAO PR. In its first decade, MAO has successfully introduced new talent to the fashion industry as well as conceptualizing and producing runway shows for various top Fashion Designers. Now in its 13th year, MAO Public Relations is enjoying a reputation as one of the hardest working Fashion PR Agencies in the Fashion Industry. In addition to Public Relations, MAO’s productions of events and runway shows (most notably MAO SPACE, a week-long alternative show venue to the 7th on Sixth tents which was produced for 5 years) has garnered them many awards and accolades including an award from Mayor Bloomberg for Promotion of Local Business, becoming the youngest members of the CFDA Fashion Week Advisory Council, BizBash’s top 15 event planners behind New York City’s biggest events and smartest marketing strategies and being named two of OUT Magazine’s most influential people in 2010 and Instinct Magazine’s 10 Men of the Year in 2005. In 2010, the Padilha brothers wrote The Stephen Sprouse Book which was published by Rizzoli and continues to be one of the best selling fashion monographs. Now in 2012, they have completed their second book, Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco.
Mauricio and Roger Padilha interviewed by Marie Havens
Written by Marie Havens
Photography Courtesy of Paul Caranicas / Copyright the Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos
Design by Marie Havens
Polaroids (taken using Antonio Lopez’s original Polaroid SX 70) of Mauricio Padilha and Roger Padilha, 2012, Photography Courtesy of Mauricio Padilha and Roger Padilha
Underlay/Transparency: Ribbon Cover Photo: Nina Gaidarova / Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco
Underlay/Transparency: Ribbon Cover Photo: Nina Gaidarova / Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco
Group shot: Antonio Lopez with Pat Cleveland (centered) and friends at his NYC studio, Photography Courtesy of Paul Caranicas / Copyright the Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos
Black and white photograph: Donna Jordan, Corey Tippin and Antonio Lopez (in white robes) in San Tropez, Photography Courtesy of Paul Caranicas / Copyright the Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos
Jerry Hall, Photography Courtesy of Paul Caranicas / Copyright the Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos
Sketches by Antonio Lopez, Photography Courtesy of Paul Caranicas / Copyright the Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos
Antonio Lopez with plastic bag, Photography Courtesy of Paul Caranicas / Copyright the Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos
Black and white photograph: Juan Ramos, Cathee Dahmen and Antonio at the Carnegie Hall Studio, Photography Courtesy of Paul Caranicas / Copyright the Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos
Woman in Gold seated: Anita Russell Paris, Photography Courtesy of Paul Caranicas / Copyright the Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos
Anna Piaggi and Antonio Lopez, Models, Pat Cleveland and Antonio Lopez, Karl Lagerfeld and Antonio Lopez, Photography Courtesy of Paul Caranicas / Copyright the Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos
Beach photo: Antonio Lopez, Donna Jordan, and Corey Tippin in San Tropez, Photography Courtesy of Paul Caranicas / Copyright the Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos