Winner of a whole host of awards and with accolades from none other than the likes of Anna Wintour – quoted as saying ‘We all get dressed for Bill’ yet admitting that she doesn’t always get snapped by him despite her efforts. That alone instantly endears you to this unique 80+ cultural anthropologist. Add to that that the ‘anthro’ in question mainly resides in NYC and consists of a mixture of humanity, from uptown royalty such as La Wintour, Tom Wolfe, Brooke Astor and David Rockefeller to downtown eccentrics and everyone in between.

Like all great photographers Bill Cunningham quite sensibly has preferred that the focus should be on his work rather than the man himself and has so far managed to remain anonymous. He has lived in the same tiny studio above Carnegie Hall for 50 years, allegedly sleeps on top of his filing cabinets, never eats in restaurants and gets around on a clapped-out Schwinn bicycle. Bill, I salute you! That’s how you get to be 80+.

Habitually dressed in a blue work jacket, this inadvertently elegant man just wants to be as free as possible, in order to concentrate on his one obsession – the pictures that he takes that document the way people dress. As Bill says at one point ‘If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do.

Apparently it took 10 years to make this film – 8 years to convince him to do it and 2 years to actually shoot and edit the film.

Featuring Carmen Dell’ Orifice, Anna Piaggi, Michael Kors and many more.
‘Bill Cunningham New York’ opens 16th March in the US.

Words by Anna Bang


Anna Wintour, Bill Cunningham,