Bill Cunningham, who achieved fame as a photographer of street fashion for the New York Times, has passed away after being admitted to hospital earlier in the week following a stroke. His tireless work documenting the ever-changing style of NYC earned him the title of a “living landmark” from the New York Landmarks Conservancy. The Conservancy described Cunningham’s work as “an exuberant, sometimes retroactively embarrassing chronicle of the way we looked.”
Despite his job of chronicling fashion trends, Cunningham’s personal look was steady and utilitarian. He was often seen on the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, wearing a simple blue workman’s jacket and khakis, riding a bicycle and stopping to fervently snap photos of fashions that caught his eye. He preferred to remain unobtrusive and observe without being observed in return.
On Saturday the New York Times posted an article to pay homage to the life and work of Cunningham, outlining his beginnings as a milliner and his career change to street photographer in the late 1960s. “Bill was an extraordinary man, his commitment and passion unparalleled, his gentleness and humility inspirational,” said Michele McNally, The Times’s director of photography. “Even though his talents were very well known, he preferred to be anonymous, something unachievable for such a superstar. I will miss him every day.”