Bill Cunningham enamoured the fashion world for decades with his street photography column Evening Hours for the New York Times. His photography captured a very particular brand of fashion – his subjects were exotic, elegant and always on the street. Cunningham was the epitome of New York. In the words of Andy Warhol from The Andy Warhol Diaries, “Ran into Bill Cunningham on his bike, I just wish I could do what he does, just go everywhere and take pictures all day.”
Travelling by bicycle (he famously never took taxis) tracking down people in the street, Cunningham was a roving NYC landmark who adored non-conventional fashion and hated copycats and style stealers. You’d be hard pressed to find someone Cunningham didn’t capture (from Anna Piaggi to Iris Apfel, Carmen dell’Orefice and Anna Wintour).
He came, as he said in a 2010 documentary, from a normal working class and conservative catholic family. His friends, on the other hand, were persuaded he came from an aristocratic background due his impeccable manners and his ease with New York’s elite.
Even though his family never supported his passion, as they thought it wasn’t a “manly pursuit” Cunningham, who liked simple things, paradoxically showed extravagance through his lens and was honoured by the Ministry of Culture in France as an Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters.