The Times of Bill Cunningham Delightfully Captures the Fashion Photographer’s Artistry—and His More Sensitive Side

Even those of us who used to await and savor Bill Cunningham’s street-fashion photochronicle every week in the New York Times—where his work appeared from 1978 to 2016—probably had no idea how precious, in time, those photographs would come to be. Cunningham had two beats: society parties and, better yet, the polychrome cavalcade of fashion as seen on the streets of Paris and, most frequently, New York. His “On the Street” column, which featured candid pictures of individuals arranged into themes—men and women all wearing yellow coats, for example—was an anthropological study in the making. In Mark Bozek’s marvelously intimate documentary The Times of Bill Cunningham, Cunningham himself says—in an on-camera interview Bozek conducted in 1994—that he was hardly a photographer at all. He considered himself a “fashion historian.”

Cunningham was easily both, and Bozek’s film—narrated by Sarah Jessica Parker—captures both his artistry and his fizzy, elfin charm. You might wonder why we need another Cunningham documentary. Didn’t Richard Press’ superb 2010 Bill Cunningham: New York cover it all? Bozek’s film is a more personalized work, with that 1994 interview as its backbone. It’s something of a companion piece to Cunningham’s delightful memoir, Fashion Climbing, published posthumously in 2018. (Cunningham died in 2016, at age 87, though you could catch him wheeling through the streets of New York on his bicycle almost until the end.) Cunningham tells some of the same stories in Bozek’s film, but it’s wonderful to see and hear them tumble forth, punctuated by an impetuous grin here or an animated cackle there.

Cunningham was born in Boston and moved to New York as a teenager to work at the ultra-elegant Bonwit Teller department store. In time he began designing hats under the name William J. (he didn’t want to use his full name, lest he embarrass his discreet …read more

Source:: Time – Entertainment


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