Legendary street style photographer Bill Cunningham has died at 87. Cunningham suffered a stroke recently and the New York Times confirmed his death on Saturday.
Cunningham documented the trends on New York City’s streets for nearly 40 years for the New York Times and became a fixture on them in the process. His blue windbreaker, bike, and camera were present at every fashion show, every gala. He always snapped his subjects with a smile, often addressing them fondly as “my child.”
Long before “street style” became the contrived and staged phenomenon it is today―one that has become highly monetized―Cunningham captured style as it really was: on the street, on regular New Yorkers.
Cunningham was also completely unfazed by celebrity fashion, which dominates style headlines today. “It’s not interesting to me,” he said of celebrity during a talk with Fern Mallis at the 92nd St. Y several years ago. “The fashion world killed itself by lending the clothes or giving them away. Who the hell is going to buy anything when you pay them to wear it?”
As for his own celebrity, he wouldn’t hear of it. “Legacy?! I’m a worker in the factory; all we care about is today!” he said. “A legacy…what a bunch of baloney.”
Still, the fashion world lost a legend today, one who leaves behind a rich and indelible legacy.