reflets de lumière

Bill Cunningham New York

Posted in Fashion, Film, Photography by B on June 13, 2010

Bill Cunningham New York, Richard Press

Bill Cunningham, photographed by Craig Arend

Bill Cunningham, photographed by Kelly Stuart

Bill Cunningham, photographed by Kelly Stuart

Bill Cunningham, photographed by Kelly Stuart

Richard Press’ documentary of Bill Cunningham describes a man who has devoted his life to fashion; not simply to the photography of clothing, but as a anthropological historian, examining the relationship between people and their clothes.

At 81, he is still full of vitality and to this day retains a genuine, youthful curiosity for the way people dress themselves, cycling up and down the streets of New York, rain, hail or sunshine, watching and waiting for the city and its people to reveal themselves. As well as a tireless photographer, he is also his own layout man, spending endless hours piecing together precise photographic montages for his two columns “On the Street” and “Evening Hours”.

For a man so well known in the world of fashion (and recognisable in his signature blue worker jacket) he is surprisingly ascetic. He lives and eats very frugally, refusing to be wined and dined by the movers and shakers he photographs. He also resided for decades in in Carnegie Hall Studios on 57th St. in a tiny apartment crammed to the ceiling with a lifetime’s worth of files and file cabinets, permitting himself only a spartan single bed in one corner of a work area in which to sleep.

Yet what is most poignant in Press’ documentary is Cunningham’s clear passion for garments and how people wear them. He dismisses the typical media hunger for celebrity and simply focuses upon the clothes themselves; the fabric, the cut, the color, the line. And more importantly he makes it clear he is not an arbiter of fashion. “It isn’t what I think, it’s what I see,” he says. “I let the street speak to me. You’ve got to stay on the street and let the street tell you what it is.”

Bill Cunningham New York. Dir. Richard Press. 2010. Film.


Bill Cunningham

Richard Press


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