Yesterday, on the way to Robert Bryan’s annual New Year’s Day tea (in his perfect period apartment, in the Ageloff Towers, where everyone is dressed in period 1930s), who do we come up in the elevator with? – New York treasure and its most tireless fashion photographer, Bill Cunningham. It was quite the event and as you can see Mr. Bryan’s aesthetic is shared by his many friends – everywhere you looked was a perfect little vignette. While chatting with photographer and long-time friend Josef Astor, I discovered that Mr. Cunningham really HATES his new-found fame. He’s been a fly on the wall for 40+ years to the general public (fashion and nightlife people have always known him) but the documentary, “Bill Cunningham New York”, totally blew his cover on the street.
Cunningham started the photo series (below) in ’68 called “Façades”, which documents the history of architecture and fashion in the city by juxtaposing models (mostly his friend, the late photographer Eddita Sherman who just passed away at 100 last year) in vintage outfits in and around New York’s most iconic historic buildings and locales. When he finished the series in 1976, Bill donated 88 of the photographs to the New York Historical Society, and now they are putting them all on view in “Bill Cunningham: Façades” which runs March 14 through June 15, 2014, highlighting how the city has changed over the last 35+ years. I can’t wait to see it. Years ago Josef gave me an out-of-print copy of the book that I MUST get Bill to sign, but I really hope they reissue it. It’s a real treasure, like the man himself. I hope he lives to 100 like Eddita (he’s 84) – I can’t imagine New York City without him. If he’s not there, how will you know if you’re at a good party or not? (Top; Bill Cunningham shooting me shooting him; host Robert Bryan in a smoking jacket with guests; myself with Michael Pollack; ambience; Kathleen McGowan matches the decor perfectly; guests. Bottom photos, Eddita Sherman by Bill Cunningham from “Façades”)