Bill Cunningham New York* Review

Film Still
  • Bill Cunningham New York film still


Gives you new perspectives of fashion, photography and New York.

An old man with a camera looped around his neck stands outside a Paris fashion show in the rain. A tall doorwoman dressed entirely in black takes one look at his ragged navy blue smock and refuses him entry. Noticing this small conversion, a hovering publicist pushes the doorwoman out of the way, grabs the man’s shoulders and ushers him in. "Please," the publicist shouts at her, "this is the most important man on Earth."

The man in question is Bill Cunningham, the New York Times photographer who invented street style in the '60s and has been documenting fashion in the Big Apple and beyond ever since. Cunningham is famed for spotting trends and championing original fashions and still works every day of his life, even though he’s 80 years old.

Richard Press’ Bill Cunningham New York follows the photographer as he cycles around the city in search for the most dynamic new fashions. Through interviews with New York’s elite, from Vogue editor Anna Wintour to author and journalist Tom Wolfe, Press gently introduces the fascinating journey of a man singularly devoted to fashion photography.

What starts as the story of an aged photographer soon becomes an exploration of the enigmas that surround him – what happens in Cunningham’s private life? Has he ever had a relationship? Why has he never accepted payment for any of his work? Press gently poses these questions to Cunningham throughout, creating a platform for the eccentric subject’s charm to swiftly rise to the surface.

Bill Cunningham New York is not a documentary about fashion. It’s a documentary about the importance of fashion as seen through a visionary and humble man’s lens and about the sacrifices he has made for his passion. This film is a love letter to both Bill Cunningham and his city – one so perfectly executed that it’s impossible not to feel great compassion and respect for both the photographer and his city.

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