Sad news to report. Bill Cunningham suffered a stroke a few days ago and we all wished him a speedy recovery. But it was not to be. He died today in his beloved Manhattan. He was 87.
Jason Bernstein wrote in the Times, where Cunningham worked for the last 4 decades,
“Cunningham was such a singular presence in the city that in 2009 he was designated a living landmark. And he was an easy one to spot, riding his bicycle through Midtown, where he did most of his field work, his bony-thin frame draped in his utilitarian blue French worker’s jacket, khaki pants and black sneakers (he himself was no one’s idea of a fashion plate), with his 35-millimeter camera slung around his neck, ever at the ready for the next fashion statement to come around the corner.
Nothing escaped his notice, not the fanny packs, not the Birkin bags, not the gingham shirts, not the fluorescent biker shorts.
In his nearly 40 years working for The Times, Mr. Cunningham snapped away at changing dress habits to chart the broader shift away from formality and toward something more diffuse and individualistic.
At the Pierre Hotel on the East Side of Manhattan, he pointed his camera at tweed-wearing blue-blood New Yorkers with names like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt. Downtown, by the piers, he clicked away at crop-top wearing Voguers. Up in Harlem, he jumped off his bicycle — he rode more than 30 over the years, replacing one after another as they were wrecked or stolen — for B-boys in low-slung jeans.”
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., the Times’s publisher and chairman,
“His company was sought after by the fashion world’s rich and powerful, yet he remained one of the kindest, most gentle and humble people I have ever met. We have lost a legend, and I am personally heartbroken to have lost a friend.”
He was. In 2010, the documentary film, Bill Cunningham New York, premiered at the Museum of Modern Art to glowing reviews. It’s on Netflix. See it.
If you lived in New York City and were on the scene for any length of time, being photographed by Bill was a right of passage. He will not be soon forgotten.
The only good thing about this news is that he did what he loved, rode around NYC on his bike right until the end. No long illness, or not being able to get out and shoot the city. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll just imagine him on his bike somewhere, using that incredible eye on another (very chic) plane.
(via The New York Times)