Opening Night: Bold, Beautiful and Damned—A Retrospective of 80s Fashion Illustrations From Tony Viramontes

“I never met Tony Viramontes.” So began Dean Rhys Morgan, author of Bold, Beautiful and Damned, at his presentation on opening night of the exhibit in the FIDM Museum foyer. Rather, he was introduced to his work by a peer and began a quest to discover everything he could about the brilliant illustrator who captured the zeitgeist of the 80s while reinvigorating fashion illustration.

Author Dean Rhys Morgan and FIDM Museum Shop Director and installation coordinator, Judy Yaras. Photo: William Norton

Morgan’s talk, originated for the V&A in London, described his journey into the world and work of Viramontes. He traveled to New York City, Rome and Paris to meet and speak with the people who knew and worked with him, committed to piecing together the story of Tony’s life.

At the invitation of the Viramontes family, he went to Los Angeles to study the thousands of illustrations they had preserved since his untimely death in 1988.

“I went. I saw. I was conquered,” explained Morgan, owner of Works on Paper, an online gallery that specializes in mid-century fashion and interior illustration. With a degree in costume design from Wimbledon College of Art, he has worked with fashion legend Isabella Blow at Tatler. As a journalist, he has contributed to The Telegraph and The Sunday Times.

FIDM students at opening party. Photo: Alexander Martino

This all-consuming effort is presented in Morgan’s stunning new book, The World of 1980s Fashion Illustrator Tony Viramontes: Bold, Beautiful and Damned, with an introduction by Jean Paul Gaultier. The release of the book has been accompanied by exhibitions and presentations around the world.

Dean Rhys Morgan and Janice Dickinson. Photo: Alexander Martino

Legions of friends, family, and fans of Viramontes attend these events in Paris, Milan, in New York City in the windows of Bergdorf Goodman, and currently en route to Shanghai.

Janice Dickinson, the world’s first supermodel and Viramontes’ longtime friend and muse, attended the opening at the FIDM Museum and joined Morgan in a question and answer session.

“It was a partnership,” she recalled. “We enabled one another. Tony painted my face, styled my hair; he put me in lady, lady heels with little white ankle socks. He got me ready and we danced out together…with Tony it was a 50/50 relationship…he let me play.”

Viramontes family with Janice Dickinson. Photo: William Norton

The large, extended, and proud Viramontes family, of Santa Monica, CA, attended the opening and shared their memories.

“I traveled with him,” said his younger brother Ralph. “I was with him in Paris and Milan when I was 16 years old. He was a creator and he created his own destiny. He wasn’t afraid to step up and be who he was. He was shy but he also knew what he wanted, and he was strong. He had the drive to become a great artist, but his family always came first. He was an amazing person with a good heart and a beautiful soul. He loved life and at 31 he had accomplished what he wanted. He lived in Paris by the Eiffel Tower, and he lived his life to the fullest. He had it all and he loved it.”

When asked how it felt to have his brother honored in his hometown of Los Angeles, Ralph said quietly how much it meant to their mother and their entire family, who are grateful to Dean Rhys Morgan for all of his efforts.

The original illustrations will be on view in the FIDM Museum foyer through December 23, 2013.


FIDM Museum Shop

Inspired by the vibrant fashion illustrations by Tony Viramontes and the holiday gift-giving season, the FIDM Museum Shop offers an intriguing assortment of gifts that are sophisticated, whimsical, beautiful, and fun. Here are a few new favorites:

Gilda Grey: Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like colorful jewelry from Gilda Grey. Each piece is handcrafted in Los Angeles.

Home Accessories: Enhance your home with these handmade products designed by talented artists with authentic materials. Unique, skillfully crafted pieces include mercury glass decorations, rustic votives, hand blown glasses, and even furry little animal ornaments.

Tat 2 Jewelry: Created from an array of vintage mixed metals such as pewter, brass, copper, gold and silver plate, as well as wood, glass, pearls, semi precious stones, leather and woven cord, Tat 2 jewels are hip and stylish but not trendy.

Clutches: Beautiful handmade bags are affordable and fabulous!

Delectable Treats: Dark Chocolate Fig Bonbons, Saporoso Riserva Balsamic Vinegar, and Oprah’s Favorite Things 2013 pick, Compartes Chocolatier, a Los Angeles chocolate tradition for over 60 years…come peruse our delicious selection.

Hostess Gifts: Guarantee that you will be invited to the next party when you bring this tasseled martini shaker.


All FIDM Museum exhibitions are free & open to the public

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