Fashion really is dead in New York. While fashion industry insiders continue to debate the slow death knell of New York Fashion Week – now it is officially over for me. I was and am still in total shock photographer Bill Cunningham passed away this past Saturday. OK, he was 87 but I honestly thought he was immortal and would live forever. In case you don’t know who he was, Mr. Cunningham was the original street style photographer in New York City. This stick figure of a man rode around the streets of NYC on a bike in his trademark French blue jacket and khakis with his 35-millimeter camera draped around his neck where he observed and chronicled street fashion and ever changing trends for nearly 40 years for The New York Times.
The first thing I would do with a Sunday Times is turn to the ‘Style Section’ to see what trend he noticed for that week. More recently he had turned into somewhat a celebrity himself, even though he seemed either oblivious or disinterested in celebrity. In fact, in 2009 he was designated a living landmark! In 2010 a documentary called “Bill Cunningham New York” was released to critical acclaim. Everybody in the fashion world knew who he was and would say “Hey Bill!” when they saw him. You’d secretly dress to impress hoping he would snap your picture. In fact, I’m fairly positive he took a picture of our editor Alia once. Even though it didn’t make the paper, it made her year!
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Rain or shine you had a good chance of seeing Mr. Cunningham on his bike (usually) in midtown…if you knew to look for him. I will miss seeing Mr. Cunningham in the front row of fashion shows and riding around on his bike. I hope he is up there somewhere riding around and taking photos of those he dreamed of before his era on earth. There will never be another like him.
He will be missed.
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