Sunday, June 26, 2016

Adieu Bill Cunningham

*not my photo

The Sartorialist, Street Peeper, Tommy Ton, Garance Doré and many many more, these are names of fashion street bloggers where we might get an idea of the style du jour. But where do you think it all began? It’s from this man - the begetter, the progenitor of street fashion photography named Bill Cunningham who passed away on Saturday. Photographing stylish and fashionable ones candidly and featuring  them on his New York Times column “On The Street" since the 70’s, New York’s foremost lifestyle gentleman is no more.

Of Bill Cunningham fashion matriarch Anna Wintour herself uttered, "It’s one snap, two snaps or he ignores you, which is death.” Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist) openly acknowledges obtaining the idea of street fashion photography from Cunningham and from that everyone else that is in the street fashion blog cottage industry followed.

Living his life in irony is what impressed me most about him. Famous people coveted for his imprimatur yet for most of his life he lived in a non-apartment quarters where the bathroom was in the hallway on one of the top floors of Carnegie Hall for 60 years! Using only a bicycle as his means of transportation all over the boroughs for his style hunting, he vehemently insisted on living like this until pressure mounted when the trust of Carnegie Hall implored him to move to an all expenses paid, loftier, more luxurious apartment in Manhattan. He once quipped that he wasn't interested in celebrity, sure he always had front row seats on all the shows in every fashion week at every city that mattered; but his disdain for dullness and pretense in his world was obvious. It was reported that Cunningham sometimes tore up his payment checks for work he did for top selling magazines and said, "Money is cheapest thing, liberty and freedom is the most expensive." What he simply loved to do was click away for the photos in the lifestyle/fashion pages of the NYT for the following day and this he did tenaciously.

In case you are wondering who this guy and how far-reaching his mark and influence is in your life, think of this, if you are a girl living in an archipelago somewhere in Southeast Asia who HAS to get that non-prescription geek eyeglasses accessory because you think it goes well with your high-waist cut-off jeans and your Gladiator sandals after seeing Alexa Chung wear it in a picture, it is because Bill Cunningham placed that inception of chronicling the in-style fashion in the streets way, way back in 1978, and now in the selfie generation, you must look fab peradventure a street fashion blogger might click away within your space. And so goes the full circle of Bill Cunningham. Capisce?

*not my photo

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