After reading blogs like The Sartorialist, Jak & Jil and Garance Dore for a couple of years now, it's right to say that street style has become one of the main sources of inspiration for my own attitudes and ideas towards fashion. But I never really knew of the originals of the game, the individuals that have been capturing those one time only, fashion fantastic moments in the streets for years now, way before the surge of social media.
So i was definitely intrigued when i saw the trailer for Bill Cunningham New York sometime last year, and even happier to learn that it would be screening at the Curzon cinema in Mayfair all this week. It was a great chance to learn about a man who has been snapping away at the most fabulously dressed from behind his camera lens since the 1960s, and who in my opinion, can be described as nothing less than an inspiration.
Armed with only himself, his bike, his camera (and on occasion a patched-up cagoule to dodge the rain) Cunningham continually delights in photographing great clothes and wonderful people. From those at the high society fund raiser parties to the bag lady standing at the crossing in a busy NY street, there is no fashion hierarchy for Bill, if he sees a lovely image he will take it. With his aversion to fine dining and questioning as to why anyone really needs space for a kitchen in their apartment, it's also so refreshing to see someone that after so long has not been caught up in the glamour of the fashion industry machine.
Despite his status as a photographer, Cunningham is also somewhat of an ambiguous figure and even at the end of the film we still don't know too much about him and his past- but i think that matters little as you almost immediately fall in love (well, i did anyway :/) with his hilarious humour and endearing qualities.
I hate to make age such an issue, but i am truly amazed to see a person of 80 plus still doing something that he adores daily, with such spirit and enthusiasm. This documentary portrays that without any doubt, his art is his passion and he lives and breathes the style found in the streets. I can only dream of having such a happy, fulfilling, influential career, and i hope that Cunningham's continues for as long as possible.
You can watch the trailer for Bill Cunningham New York below- if you still want the opportunity to catch it on the big screen here are a list of viewings.