I met Bill Cunningham during New York Fashion Week last month. When I spotted him at Lincoln Center I approached him for a photograph. He looked at me askance, like I was crazy. But he grumbled and obliged me, posing for a quick photo with his camera.
Bill Cunningham is truly the progenitor of street style with his weekly feature “On The Street” in the Sunday New York Times. He started shooting street style in the 1960s well before the internet was even invented. His corner is 5th Avenue and 57th Street, where he can usually be seen darting through traffic on his bicycle to get the shot. He is remarkably humble and lived an ascetic life in an artist studio in Carnegie Hall before being relocated a few blocks north to an apartment overlooking Central Park.
I was inspired to post my photograph of him after watching the Bill Cunningham New York documentary yesterday. Only after seeing the movie did I realize how incredible it was that I got him to pose, for me! He is notorious for shunning the spotlight and hates being photographed. And yet, he smiled! I think he was caught off guard that a young well-dressed woman was a street style photographer since all the New York ones are middle-aged men.*
Bill Cunningham New York will be playing in Chicago at the Music Box Theater, May 20 – 26.
*It’s the opposite in Chicago, we’re all female.