Bill Cunningham: New York

Bill Cunningham new york

Saw a lovely film yesterday, Bill Cunningham: New York. A documentary, but it’s not high brow or preachy. The film makers have created a genuine window into an extraordinary life. It’s 90 or so minutes you can allow to simply wash over you and enjoy as if you’re there talking with Bill yourself.

Won’t tell you too much about the content, except that the subject of the film is a stalwart of the New York Times, providing two photographic columns for the Times every week over the decades. One Parisian fashion week official refers to him as the “most important person on earth”. And he’s 80 years old and doesn’t seem to stop smiling.

Three things I loved:

  1. New York. Mr Cunningham spends a lot of time on the streets of NYC, either on his bike or looking through his camera lens. Can’t get enough of New York
  2. The subject’s single-minded doggedness in what he does. His principles, his pursuit of perfection, his work ethic and his humilty. His focus is admirable, eccentric and legendary.
  3. Finally, the fashion. Simply incredible, sometimes outrageous, and always fabulous.

Without Bill Cunningham, the world would not have an anthropological record of what New Yorkers have worn on the street for half a century. On face value, that may not seem like such a loss. But maybe see the film and make up your own mind. Society’s collective issues, fears and joy seem to be telegraphed by the way our clothing changes over time

He sees clothes on the street as our armour, we use it to protect ourselves. He may be talking about himself: deeply conflicted, contradiction in terms.

Whatever the case, I’m grateful I got the chance to spend an hour or so with Bill Cunningham and be reminded to be true to what is really important to ourselves. Inspiring.

Have you seen it? Let us know what you thought.

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