Saturday, June 25, 2016

RIP Bill Cunningham: A Brilliant Fashion Street Photographer and a True Original

"I don't work.  I only know how to have fun every day."
--Bill Cunningham

Bill Cunningham died today at age 87.  He was one of the most influential fashion photographers of the 20th century, turning the streets of Manhattan into his own personal studio as he observed and captured the changing costumes of several generations.  

Until the mid 2000s, he lived in a tiny apartment over Carnegie Hall -- sleeping on a cot, sharing a bathroom, grabbing a daily $3 egg breakfast at the Stage Deli and basically living like a quirky character out of a midcentury short story.  Although he photographed some of fashion's most rich and powerful, he was always an outsider.  He never limited his lens to the movers and shakers, instead, he turned it toward the pedestrians of his city with an artist's eye, and a populist's soul.  He was particularly fond of eccentrics -- all the people who broke fashion rules.

 Bill Cunningham chronicled decades upon decades of street style trends as they shifted away from uniform suits and hats and into a more carefree expression of individuality.  The NYTimes said "he turned fashion photography into his own brand of cultural anthropology."

He will be missed.

If you haven't already seen it, make sure to watch the highly reviewed 2010 documentary Bill Cunningham, New York.

Video by BellisVintage.  

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