The extraordinary life of Bill Cunningham

“The best fashion show is definitely on the street. Always has been. Always will be.” – Bill Cunningham.

Bill Cunningham, the legendary street style photographer and a man widely regarded as one of the most gentle, selfless people in the industry, left the fashion world lost of words as the news of his death trickled through newspapers this weekend. Cunningham’s talent was incomparable. He was a life force in every sense of the word; a man who continued to do what he loved right up until his very last days on earth.

“We all dress for Bill,” Anna Wintour, Editor of American Vogue, once famously said. Man or woman; fashion industry or not, Cunningham touched everyone’s life. His ability to capture a mood, to focus on the details that you actually want to see, rather than what fashion thinks you want to see, are what separated him from everyone else of a similar elk.

Even with the new wave of street style photographers and fashion bloggers, Cunningham’s presence never waned. It was always Bill that the magazines called, Bill that the models wanted to shoot them, Bill who could take the best photographs. Every week, fashion fans all over the world waited with bated breath for his New York Times column, On the street with Bill Cunningham, where he highlighted the latest trends and showcased his newest batch of photos.

Travelling to every show, even in his last season, via his bike and never without his bright blue workwear jacket – both of which have become synonymous with him – Cunningham took to the streets for every single New York Fashion Week throughout his career, even at the ripe age of 87.

A legend; an icon; a gentleman. Bill Cunningham, the world will miss you.

1960s

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Cunningham photographing models in his hat designs outside a New York County court house. Photographer unknown.

 

1967

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Bill Cunningham in Central Park in 1967, with his first camera. Photographer unknown.

1984

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André Leon Talley (former Editor-at-Large at Vogue) and Cunningham, on the street in 1984.

Photographed by Arthur Elgort

1989

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Bill Cunningham in 1989. Photograph from WireImage

1980s

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Cunningham and his trusty bike, photographed by his friend Nick Vreeland

1990s

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Cunningham at an awards ceremony in circa 1992. Photographer unknown. 

2013

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Cunningham with Vogue editor, Anna Wintour in New York. Photographed by Ricky Opaterny. 

2015

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Cunningham at New York fashion week. Photographer unknown. 

2015

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Bill at SS16 New York Fashion week, October 2015. Photographed by Maristella González.

2016

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Cunningham and his bike on the streets of New York. Photographed by Campbell Walters.

Main and featured image: Unknown

Further Reading