Canny New York Street Style-The Bill Cunningham Way

As the ‘fashion caravan’ packs its bag and leaves Paris after the latest round of Autumn-Winter 2012/13 shows, Dogwoof release their brilliant documentary by Richard Press on one of fashion’s most original and charming photographers, Bill Cunningham.

Bill Cunningham: New York is not just another fashion documentary in the same vein as The September Issue but really looks at the man behind the camera and his city New York. His passion for the art form and determination to record and celebrate individuality-in an industry that is rapidly becoming corporate and where many seem cut from the same ‘cookie cutter’ mould is refreshing and unexpected.

With a career spanning over 50 years, Cunningham cut his teeth as a milliner designing hats for the Hollywood greats Garbo, Crawford and Monroe, before being drafted into the US Army for National Service. Returning to New York afterwards, he fell into the world of photography working for the then avant-garde magazine Details.  Moving effortlessly between New York’s Downtown world of Warhol, its Uptown equivalent of ‘old money’ and all the bits in-between, Cunningham loves the city and is equally loved by it. Moving around town on his bike with his camera he is a recognisable and admired figure, similar to Manhattan’s beloved yellow cabs or iconic skyscrapers. But the film is also a tale of a rapidly changing city and gentrification.  Facing eviction from his tiny artist studio above Carnegie Hall where he has lived for years, Cunningham’s equanimity is impressive, remaining calm and composed, as the concert hall hopes to convert the studios into office spaces.

In his 80s and with an influential weekly column in the New York Times-Man on the Street, Cunningham’s old world charm and winning ways changed the face of fashion photography.

Working in a world of disparaging fashion journalists, corporate luxury brands and commercialism, the film is a celebration of the man many regard as the original ‘style blogger’; a man whose aim to seek and record beauty and the unique may well disarm and beguile the most cynical, jaded film-goer.

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~ by cinemalicious on March 10, 2012.

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