Monday, June 20, 2011

Politely stalking, Bill Cunningham: In MY New York

Turning the camera on Bill Cunningham,  57th and 5th Avenue, Tuesday June, 16th

You might not have known who Bill Cunningham was six months ago, but by now you should...The success of the documentary that filmmaker Richard Press and Philip Gefter of The Times produced last year, Bill Cunningham New York, about a New York Times Fashion Photographer, opened in one theater in New York early March of 2011 and is still showing on 22 screens nationwide. Destined to be an Oscar nominee for best doc this year, this film is so much more than just following around a fashion photographer in NYC and that's why it's infectious. And it's not a New York film for New Yorkers as I've heard a few people say. It's about people, loving what you do, passion, dedication, finding inspiration in the everyday and never growing old.

The northeast corner of 57th street and 5th Avenue is a common spot for Cunningham to shoot for his On the Street NY Times column. Bergdorf Goodman on one side, Bergdorf Men across the street, Tiffany & Co to the south and every major fashion house steps away, it's a prime spot for people watching. I've worked two blocks away from this corner for almost 12 years and I've seen Bill many times, and on occasion he's photographed what I'm wearing and I smile and think just once I would love to find my picture in his column, but so far, no luck. He does admit in the documentary that most of what he shoots is never published, but I keep walking by with hopes of some day, some day. I'll even walk a few blocks out of my way if I think he might like what I'm wearing on a particular morning, but he's not always there so it's hit or miss. Am I stalking Bill...yes, politely, I am.

In the documentary Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, states “We all get dressed for Bill Cunningham”. I do.


I have two favorite scenes in the film, one, it's Paris Fashion Week and while all the other photographers are fighting to get a shot of Catherine Deneuve, Bill doesn't photograph her claiming, “She wasn’t wearing anything interesting” and second when Cunningham tells the story of how he received his first camera: It was given to him by a photographer friend, who told him, “Use it like a pen.” This just warms my cockles.

This past Tuesday morning I thought Bill might like my sequined camouflage skirt and he just happened to be on the corner and yes, he shot my skirt, I shot him in his signature blue jacket and we both laughed about it.

Camouflage Sequin Skirt

Cunningham has snapped a few times when I've passed him recently and I think it might have been these two other items that caught his eye:

UNIQLO +j  Spring Collection

A sample tote designed by a friend

I heard through a friend that due to the success of the documentary, Cunningham is having a bit more difficulty doing his work for all the congratulations on the film and interruptions for pictures. So I promise not to interrupt him again for a picture, but I will be on the street, frequently passing by his corner, hoping he notices that I'm dressing for him and a shot on his column.


  1. Walking by Tiffany's in the Fall of 1980 with Melody, she in her broad shouldered olive drab Thierry Mugler raincoat I had just bought for her at The Penthouse in Barneys NYC when they in the West Village, we were photographed by a guy sitting on a stationary bike on Fifth Ave. I learned about Bill Cunningham much later, and wondered when I saw this film if that negative was in a big metal file box.

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