Before the internet and before the likes of fashion bloggers, there was Bill Cunningham, the street-fashion and society chronicler for The New York Times. After 50 years of cycling the streets of the Big Apple with his camera, snapping the great, the good and the stylish, Bill Cunningham is now in front of the lens in this loving and intimate portrait of a remarkable man and a chronicler of a city.
The “Bill” in question is 80+ New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham. For decades, this Schwinn-riding cultural anthropologist has been obsessively and inventively chronicling fashion trends and high society charity soirées for the Times Style section in his columns “On the Street” and “Evening Hours.” Documenting uptown fixtures (Anna Wintour, Tom Wolfe, Brooke Astor, David Rockefeller—who all appear in the film out of their love for Bill), downtown eccentrics and everyone in between, Cunningham’s enormous body of work is more reliable than any catwalk as an expression of time, place and individual flair. In turn, Bill Cunningham New York is a delicate, funny and often poignant portrait of a dedicated artist whose only wealth is his own humanity and unassuming grace.