On June 25, 2016, Bill Cunningham passed away in Manhattan. He was 87.
It is a sad day in Fashion as we mourn the loss of a legendary and beloved to New York Times and O.G. of street style photographer Bill Cunningham today.
I don’t know one person without a story about him that’s attended New York Fashion Week, or any other notable Fashion events.
Sidewalks were his platform, Bill Cunningham democratized fashion before that was even in fashion. So many stories are spun from respect and admiration, told just as well by those who know (and love) him only from the documentary as those who read the Style section with devotion or, more fortunate yet, had the honor to meet him. No one had to know Bill to feel like they knew Bill. His quick hands and sharp sight did the knowing for us.
Fashion is quick to judge. Criticism drives sales. Trends come in, styles go out. Taste — that you either have it or you don’t — is part of the appeal. But “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” never held more weight than when Bill did the holding. He looked for patterns in strange places, like corporate Midtown, and saw reasons to snap in earnest where many of us might have looked away. He captured fashion in awkward angles and sometimes tacky interpretations, not to please a design house or an editor, but for the sake of telling a story.
Even in his earlier work, his images always told a story.
Bill Cunningham saw what most of our eyes could never detect, didn’t he? With intuition or conviction or something else. He was probably the only person who saw fashion in everyone and just about anywhere.
Sometimes I even wondered if he was the only human who had the ability to stare directly into the sun.
It’s why so many of us mourn today. We lost an artist, someone I dearly admired.