The Fashion Industry Mourns Bill Cunningham

The Fashion Industry Mourns Bill Cunningham

Stephen Gan, Carine Roitfeld, and more pay tribute to the influential photographer

Stephen Gan, Carine Roitfeld, and more pay tribute to the influential photographer

Text: Veronica Radyuk

On Saturday afternoon, The New York Times reported that photographer Bill Cunningham had passed away of a stroke.

Cunningham was a visionary photographer whose famous street style snaps made a profound cultural impact—one that surpassed the realms of fashion and art over the years. His photo essays in The Times proved that one didn't have to be a celebrity or a powerful influencer to have notable style; when it came to Cunningham's lens, the older woman walking her dog on Fifth Avenue in colorful prints had a story to tell with her garments as well. According to Times Executive Editor Dean Banquet, “To see a Bill Cunningham street spread was to see all of New York."

Cunningham received his first camera in 1967 after dropping out of Harvard and moving to New York. He began to shoot for the Daily News and The Chicago Tribune soon after, finding his niche at The Times in the late 70's. He was described to be one of the most humble men in the fashion industry, devoting so much of his time to breaking cultural barriers. Without Cunningham, V might not even exist; he gave editor-in-chief Stephen Gan his start in the industry.

"I'll miss you, dearest Bill," said Gan in a statement on Saturday. "This man, a real angel who fell to earth, photographed me on the street at 18 and gave me my first job in magazines."

Of course, Gan is not the only industry leader touched by Cunningham's work; the late style photographer has saddened the hearts of many in the fashion world with his passing, and now influential names in the industry have taken to social media to express their love and respect for Cunningham's art and humanity.

In his nearly 40 years working for @nytimes, Bill Cunningham was both a dedicated chronicler of fashion and an unlikely cultural anthropologist, one who used the changing dress habits of the people he photographed to chart the broader shift away from formality and toward something more individualistic. Bill put it this way in an essay he wrote for @nytimes in 2002: “Fashion is as vital and as interesting today as ever. I know what people with a more formal attitude mean when they say they’re horrified by what they see on the street. But fashion is doing its job. It’s mirroring exactly our times.” #📸 Did you ever spot #BillCunningham taking pictures of street style, or were you captured in one of his photos? We'd like to hear your story. Visit the link in our profile to tell us more. @dollyfaibyshev took this photo at New York Fashion Week last year.

A photo posted by The New York Times (@nytimes) on

Best fashion look, best pictures, best smile! RIP dear Bill Cunningham! Miss you💔💔💔

A photo posted by Carine Roitfeld (@carineroitfeld) on

We celebrate the life & legacy of #BillCunningham. #RIP #FashionIcon

A photo posted by Saks Fifth Avenue (@saks) on

"He who seeks beauty will find it." We'll miss you Bill.

A photo posted by Bergdorf Goodman (@bergdorfs) on

Goodbye Bill 💔

A photo posted by Emmanuelle Alt Official (@emmanuellealt) on

God bless you Bill. You will be so missed. #RIP #BillCunningham

A photo posted by Linda Evangelista (@lindaevangelista) on

Credits: Photo courtesy Getty Images

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