The Sartorialist, Garance Doré, Mr. Newton—seems you can’t duck out of a Fashion Week event without literally bumping into these street-style photographers or a pretty young thing posing for their lenses. Within a few short years, the top tier of these trend spotters have become franchises onto themselves, producing books, pop-up shops, clothing lines, and industry recognition. But as much as over a century of street-life and high-society photographers created the template for sidewalk trend spotting and forged the identity of the snap-happy flaneur, there is only one man who could legitimately called the granpappy of the street-style blogger. Bill Cunningham, the longtime “On The Street” cameraman for the New York Times is not only the prototype of the eagle-eyed, idiosyncratic style photographer, but also the subject of an upcoming documentary dedicated to his one-of-a-kind personality and methods.
While details at this time are few, Kottke reports that a new documentary, “Bill Cunningham New York” will premiere March 24th, at MoMA during their New Directors/New Films 2010 series. Says the press release, “The film shows Cunningham, an octogenarian, riding his Schwinn bicycle to cover benefits, galas, and fashion shows around Manhattan, and illustrates how his camera has captured the looks that have defined generations.” Indeed, anyone who “follows the shows” has seen the 81-year-old (or 82-year-old, he’s not sure) calmly making his rounds documenting the latest waves in accessories, shoes, or whathaveyou before jumping back on his bike to head to the next venue. A true-blue New York eccentric, Cunningham lives in a miniature rent-controlled hideaway above his favorite hunting ground (the corner of Manhattan’s 57th and 7th), sleeps on a wooden board, and continues to wear the same denim garment-workers smock he has for decades. Perhaps no longer ahead of the street-style pack, he remains the only one to have the experience of 40 or 50 years of trend hunting and a good 32 years at America’s paper of record, putting him head-and-shoulders above any kid with a SLR. We can only imagine what more a documentary on this legend’s life would have in store.
To attempt to get yourself in a Bill Cunningham trend report in the New York Times, head for Carnegie Hall in Manhattan, the boutiques along 57th street, or, if it ever stops snowing, the chairs in Bryant Park.
For more cinematic views of America’s most fashionable city, pick up a copy of our “Film + Travel: North America/South America”.
“Bill Cunningham New York”
New Directors/New Films
March 24, 2010
The Museum of Modern Art
11 W 53rd Street
New York, New York, U.S.A.
All images courtesy of the New York Times.