Legendary New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham, who famously documented street fashion, has died. He was 87.
The Times confirmed his death on Saturday after Cunningham was hospitalized earlier in the week due to a stroke.
With close to 40 years of experience working for the newspaper under his belt, Cunningham found himself the subject of Richard Press’ 2011 documentary, Bill Cunningham New York. Featuring interviews with Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and fashion icon Iris Apfel, the film showcased his life’s work and painted a portrait of the man behind the acclaimed photographs.
“I’ve said many times that we all get dressed for Bill,” Wintour said in the film. She added, “It’s one snaps, two snaps, or he ignores you, which is death.” Watch the trailer below.
At the time, EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum likened Bill Cunningham New York to Pierre Thoretton’s film about Yves Saint Laurent, L’Amour Fou. She wrote in part, “Those fou about the Saint Laurent film…should run to see Richard Press’ marvelous documentary Bill Cunningham New York…and marvel at how the revered, self-effacing fashion photographer for The New York Times (still working in his 80s) pours his own crazy love for street fashion into artful, inspiring photos.”
Press told Indiewire in 2011 of Cunningham, who liked to search for subjects instead of being one, “Bill’s reticence to be filmed determined the practicals of how the documentary could be made. The spectacle of a camera crew; a sound recorder and boom operator would be impossible. I had to capture him the way he says he captures his own subjects — ‘discreetly, quietly… invisibly.'”
Two days prior to his passing, Cunningham’s assistant John Kurdewan posted the below message to Instagram.
To all of Bill's friends around the world…you may have noticed that Bill has been away from the pages for a bit. He is having some health issues that require him to rest and get stronger again. We expect he will be back on his bike and prowling the streets with his camera very soon. In the meantime I will pass along your good wishes. Stay tuned for updates. Love, John. #billcunningham