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Bill Cunningham (1929 - 2016)

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Bill Cunningham (1929 - 2016)

Bill Cunningham, a fashion photographer for The New York Times, died June 25, 2016, according to multiple news sources. He was 87.

Cunningham had a stroke recently and had been hospitalized.

His association with The New York Times began after catching a chance photograph of Greta Garbo as she passed by on the street. He had long shown an interest in fashion as it was worn daily on the street. He began a regular series of these photos in the Times in 1978. He would spend the better part of the next 30 years scouring the city on his bicycle in a blue jacket.

He had a knack for capturing everyday styles self-crafted by the denizens of New York. The rest of the fashion world would take notice, and he was often a conduit bringing trends from the sidewalk to the catwalk.


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Born in Boston in 1929, he dropped out of Harvard University in 1948 and moved to New York before being drafted into the U.S. Army. After his tour, he returned to New York and began writing about fashion for the Chicago Tribune. He transitioned from writing into photography.

He was the subject of the 2010 documentary “Bill Cunningham New York.” The film documented a man who a year earlier had been designated a living landmark.

A lifelong observer of people and their fashions, he always strove to be as unobtrusive as possible. He spoke to Elle magazine in 2014 about what drew him to the street rather than the runway: “The street speaks to me. If you’re not out on the street, you don’t know anything.”

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