Friday, April 4, 2014

Bill Cunningham: New York's Straight Shooter

I was fashionably late to the party that is the documentary: Bill Cunningham New York. It was released in September of 2011 and has been sitting in my "list" on Netflix for about two years and I have finally sat down and watched it. Twice. I was deeply moved by Bill, his honesty, philosophy and his eye for beauty. I was moved to tears by his passion and authenticity as a person and an artist.
He perceives fashion in much the same way I do. There are no boundaries, to have style is to be unique and interesting, there is no "in" season or trend as it is all "in". When he photographs he has a very egalitarian view of people. It is about the clothes and the styling not about your social standing is or how big of a bank account you have. His passion for the artistry of fashion and dressing is what propels him, now at 85 years old on his bicycle all over New York City.
Bill's version of a drive by shooting

He first picked up  his camera in the 1960's and has never put it down. He stays authentic and ignores the technological progression of photography and shoots with 35mm film, looks at his negatives and has them developed. No photoshop or masking his true eye or talent level. He is most famous for his long running "on the street" fashion pictorial column for The New York Times. He shoots all the images, chooses every image and the position they appear on the page. He controls his work and has never been a sell out.
He has my ultimate respect. I am in the middle of putting pen to paper to write to him. Gratitude is nothing if it is left unexpressed.  I adore his lifestyle and the fact that he is a true artist, passion is what drives him and the pursuit of beauty, not as he says "cookie cutter sameness". 
"A lot of people have taste but they don't have the daring to be creative. Here we are in an age of the cookie cutter sameness. There are few that are rarities"
Bill spends the majority of his time photographic street style in New York as well as the fashion shows and evening events. He also travels to Paris for the S/S and F/W shows. He believes that to feed your eyes you must shoot everything. He has a natural critical eye and has kept every single negative of every image he has ever taken. They are all stored in filing cabints and boxes in his studio/home.
I hope to cross Mr. Cunninghams path one day and maybe walk my way right into his column. I too am so tired of generic, uninspired people Bill. The amount of of dishonest, unauthentic people are exhausting and I am thankful that you are one of the straight shooters! You are a rare treasure to the fashion industry, New York and the world!

Have you seen the film?

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