Legendary street photographer Bill Cunningham recently passed away at the age of 87 due to a stroke. To refresh your mind Bill worked as a fashion photographer for The New York Times. Photographing New York’s hottest socialites as well as the everyday working woman for over 40 years. His craft paved the way for many other successful street photographers. Over time one thing kept him alive : fashion. At the ENFNTS TERRIBLES HQ he goes by the name of : ‘The Fashion Photographer of the century’.
After spending 40 years photographing for The New York Times he surely became one of the most beloved and inevitable personas of New York city’s fashion scene. His influence did not only affect New York. It goes beyond…far beyond. With only his signature blue jacket, bicycle and his camera he opened doors for young fashion designers worldwide and changed the way people perceived street photography.
The best fashion show is definitely on the street. Always has been, and always will be – photographer Bill Cunningham
Bill Cunningham’s Story Line
Full Name : William John “Bill” Cunningham Jr. born in Boston on March 13, 1929.
Bill dropped out of Harvard University in 1948 and moved to New York City at the age of 19. Where he worked in the advertising department at Bonwit Teller’s store. Not so long after he quit to pursue a career as a designer. He began designing hats for women under William J. That being before he became a fashion editor for Women’s Wear Daily.
In the late 60’s Bill left Women’s Wear Daily after his column “from runways to the real life” was wrongfully edited. It was suppose to show designer pieces worn by real life women on the New York streets. Instead they changed his copy to make fun of the women wearing the designer clothes. Because if you think about it. At that time who would’ve thought the regular woman on the street could get away with designer pieces. Plus women came to see a actual result of the feminist movement in the 1960’s. That made Bill Cunningham such an avant-guardist.
In 1978 he spontaneously photographed Greta Garbo. When The New York Times saw Cunningham’s work they spotted a revolutionary and uncommon way of fashion photography and fashion journalism. From that moment Cunningham slowly became a world icon.
10 Random Facts About Bill Cunningham
- First of all Bill never lost his Boston accent.
- In addition Bill had 2 sisters and 1 older brother.
- His parents being religious used corporal punishment.
- Bill served the U.S Army during the Korean War and was stationed in France, where he first discovered his passion for French fashion. And even back then he photographed women dans les ruelles de Paris.
- In the 1950’s he worked for Chez Ninon. A fancy couture salon that sold replicas of designs by Givenchy, Dior and Chanel. His exclusive client list contained celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Katharine Hepburn, and Jacqueline Bouvier.
- He even was present on president JFK’s funeral. Bill was the guilty one who dyed black the Balenciaga suit Jacqueline Kennedy wore at the funeral.
- Bill photographed his way throughout the worldwide evolution of fashion. In a time where photographers weren’t indispensable for fashion shows. Bill was present.
- The french minister of culture named Bill Officer in the order of Arts and Letters.
- Money, fame and celebrity were not his life goals. Until he was forced to move in 2010, Cunningham lived in a tiny studio above Carnegie Hall.
- In conclusion Bill Cunningham had a lot of friends in the fashion industry. One of his close friend was the Queen herself : Anna Wintour. Bill was one of the few persons on this planet who can make Ms. Wintour smile.
Bill Cunningham’s Corner
On the corner of the 5th Avenue and 57th street in Manhattan was Bill Cunningham’s spot. The style corner where he recruited stylish New Yorkers. A few days after his death a petition started via Change.org . A petition aiming to officially name the corner on 57th street and 5th Avenue ‘Bill Cunningham’s Corner’. Since it has been locally acknowledged as such.
More than 6000 signatures have been collected already and ENFNTS TERRIBLES is supporting this petition. Sign the petition on Change.org petition started by Nick Nicholson, a friend of Cunningham.
Photo credits : GQ, Telegraph, Harper’s Bazaar