Bill Cunningham = New York

IMG_8802There's been an overwhelming outpour of tributes and sharing of personal memories since Bill Cunningham's death this weekend, all of which speak to his importance—as a photographer, a visual anthropologist of sorts, and as a true blue New Yorker—and the void created by his passing. Just about anyone who's attended a full lineup of fashion week shows has probably seen Bill outside at some point, wearing his trademark blue French workman's jacket, snapping away with a wide grin on his face. When it came to his subjects, he was indiscriminate, shooting everyone from Anna Wintour and grand dames of society, to young punks and crossdressers, yet he always had his eye on something.

Even as recently as this last fashion week, while most of us dashed inside as quickly as we could to escape the brutally cold, sub-zero temperatures, Bill still did his thing, the only real difference being his royal blue puffer coat. It's an understatement to say that we'll all miss him tremendously.

In 2011, I interviewed Richard Press, whose documentary Bill Cunningham New York, shed a rare light on the notoriously private photographer. Bill was such a visible figure, well-known for those he photographed, and yet we knew very little of him. Even watching the film, one gets the sense that there's still so much of Bill we don't know, and perhaps never will. With his extraordinary legacy of countless images, we can at least celebrate what Bill showed us about ourselves, in how we dress and choose to express ourselves. And as Bill would say, that's a "mahvelous" thing!

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