A Fossil of Fashion: Bill Cunningham New York, A Review

By Zena Wozniak

Bill Cunningham New York – a title that is aptly bestowed upon the documentary as the viewer comes to recognize the man to be every bit as iconic as the city he captures. For those unfamiliar with the 82-year-old photographer and his work, he has photographed street fashion in Manhattan for nearly half a decade – the original Sartorialist, if you will. Most famously, his work appears in the Sunday Style section of The New York Times.

Even more impressive than his prolific photographic career, however, is the character behind the lens. Though a lover of the people who dare to take risks with their clothing choices, Cunningham himself is revealed to make incredibly simple lifestyle choices – ascetic even. In one scene he is shown duct-taping the holes in his plastic rain poncho, in another he happily chows down on a three dollar egg and cheese sandwich at a deli. Even his apartment is so small that it lacks a private bathroom – this from a man who sits front row during Fashion Week and is well-regarded by the industry’s most powerful figures; Anna Wintour, to name one example.

Watch this movie and try not to fall in love with Cunningham; I dare you. It marvelously portrays the precariousness of Cunningham and the world he inhabits. Essentailly, he is the plain, enduring fossil among a museum of masterpieces, and his senility and persistence are shown simultaneously, rendering him as deliciously impractical and earnest. I only wish I had heard of him sooner.

This documentary is available on Netflix Watch Instantly.

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1 Comment

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One response to “A Fossil of Fashion: Bill Cunningham New York, A Review

  1. Leafy Gent

    I was really impressed by this monk of fashion and his, “don’t ever let them own you” stance. When he was asked, “Why are you working at your own event,” he said something along the lines of it not being work at all, becuase he loves what he does. To still have the enthusiasm of a 20-year-old into your 80’s is just amazing! What a life.

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