Bill Cunningham New York

4 Aug

Iris Apfel, self-professed 'world's oldest teenager'

New York is a city full of originals, and there’s no other street photographer like Bill Cunningham. He bicycles the city streets scouting for nouveau fashion, and in each daily procession of  street denizens he witnesses the parade of life. The results are admired every Sunday in his New York Times column On the street. “The best fashion show is definitely on the street, always has been, always will be,” says Bill. His Evening Hours segment, in contrast, chronicles the parties of the week, events heaving with first ladies of philanthropy and Nobel Laureates.

Bill’s been taking photos since the end of  the Korean war, and has become a man of great influence in the fashion industry. As one security guard at a major fashion show said when Bill appeared out of nowhere in his trademark utilitarian blue jacket, “he’s the most important man in the world.”

Bill’s obsession is such that he leads an ascetic existence based entirely on his love of clothing. He feasts on hamburgers in low-brow diners, and has spent the best part of half a century residing in a tiny Carnegie Towers studio. He’s humble and selfless – a diamond in the rough in the fashion industry. We want to learn more about the elusive man himself, but he’s intensely private, and  we only get a glimpse into his personal life and  background.

Through interviews with editors and his inner circle of style doyennes, footage of Bill hard at work, and shots of  uptown and downtown people caught in the act of  being fabulous, we witness Bill’s photography as a barometer of  cultural life  on board Manhattan Island – the mothership  – as it is today. Watching Bill Cunningham New York gave me that joyful  feeling I have when I know someone well and realise we’re destined to be friends for life.


2 Responses to “Bill Cunningham New York”

  1. melrey August 4, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    Couldn’t agree more! Found this movie really inspiring, and the kind of thing you need to see when you’re having trouble sticking to your guns!

  2. Chris August 6, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    This has been one of my highlights of the festival and am recommending everyone I talk to about MIFF to see it on the closing Sunday. Great doco.

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