Remembering the legendary NY Times photographer, columnist and maverick who celebrated self-expression in fashion.
At the weekend the news broke that Bill Cunningham the photographer and style reporter had died aged 87, here we celebrate his contribution to fashion:
Bill Cunningham didn’t care about your top to toe designer outfit, he didn’t care for the celebrity wrapped in a look they were gifted for free, he had no time for the clothes you bought directly from the mannequin without changing a thing. He wanted to see what you could create, he looked for your vintage thrift store accessories, the cut of the cloth you were wearing, the texture and the textiles, the hand embroidered magic, the way the chiffon draped and the print pattern top clashed with your yellow trousers, the way a student on a budget could create the most show-stopping thing he’d ever seen (probably with a latex finish and lots of black). He was all about the details and telling the best story.
As a journalist I admired him for his commitment to see beyond the obvious story, the ‘it’s all about green this season” line, and push for more to find that overarching theme that was hidden, waiting to be unearthed. What did this colour mean for our time? Where else are we seeing it? What is the street saying?
Bill didn’t just go to the catwalk shows, he hopped on his bike and explored the big, bad, wild city of New York, a city that is literally bursting at the seams with multicultural style. He put Staten Island fashion duo Dee and Ricky (who made LEGO hearts worn by Kanye West) in his broadsheet paper column for the NY Times, next to ladies at a high society function, next to grandfathers in Harlem rocking their Sunday best, because he wanted to tell you the whole story. He wanted to show you that fashion at its core, when it’s being its best (not elitist and restrictive) is about creativity, style and self expression.
Miss you Bill.