Recently watched the documentary “Bill Cunningham New York” and finally understand just how amazing the man himself truly is. From his discrete influence on the fashion scene in New York to his humble and fun personality, it’s a documentary I feel you must watch, whether you’re into fashion, photography or anything inbetween. Cunningham’s approach will leave you inspired.
“When people ask me how long it took to make my documentary, Bill Cunningham New York,I say ten years: eight to persuade Bill to do it and two to shoot and edit the film. Had it taken any less time, it would not have been true to Bill.
He is a reluctant fashion deity, riding around town on his worn-out bicycle, dressed in the blue jacket of workmen in Paris. My fascination with him has always gone beyond the photographs that have made him famous. Who he is as a person, how he’s chosen to live his life, and his almost religious dedication to his work—that was what inspired me to make the movie. Bill has been documenting street fashion for over half a century (for Women’s Wear Daily, then the Soho News,Details, and finally the New York Times), and it’s fitting that his first “On the Street” column for the Times included a photo of Greta Garbo because he is as elusive as she was—a Garboesque shadow on the run with a camera. A journalist, he believes, should always be invisible and anonymous. (Garbo, incidentally, was accidental: Bill has said that all he noticed was her nutria coat, and the beautiful cut of its shoulder.)
Bill tells everyone that he’s not a photographer. He just loves clothes. “Any real photographer would say, ‘He’s a fraud!’ ” says Bill. “Well, they’re right. I’m just about capturing what I see.” Which is actually quite astute. “It’s more than mere picture taking; it’s cultural anthropology—the intersection of fashion and society in New York City,” says Philip Gefter, the documentary producer. In Bill’s hands, this meeting of high and low, uptown and downtown, is not just a mirror of our times, it’s a celebration of self-invention and expression.”
-Richard Press (Director)