NICE IDEA, BUT NO: There were press reports over the weekend that, in memory of Bill Cunningham, Paris had lit the Eiffel Tower blue last Wednesday, recapturimg the blue French workman’s jacket the late New York Times photographer had made his signature. Friends of Cunningham’s were quoted in an item on Page Six on Saturday calling on New York to follow Paris and light the Empire State Building blue to honor him.
It all sounds thoughtful, but the press reports were wrong about Paris. Matthieu Lamarre, a spokesman for Paris City Hall, denied the information.
“There was no special lighting on Wednesday night,” asserted Lamarre, noting that during the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament, the Eiffel Tower is illuminated for ten minutes after the game with the colors of the country playing that day and which received the biggest support by fans on social media. The initiative is sponsored by French telecom operator Orange, in partnership with the City of Paris, and runs through the end of the tournament scheduled on July 10.
“There was no UEFA Euro 2016 game happening on Wednesday. On Thursday night, the Eiffel Tower was lit up in Portugal colors — green and red [for the Portugal-Poland quarter final] — and then it was in Turkish colors — all red — in homage to the people killed in the attacks in Istanbul’s airport. Typically, there are special lightings for tragic international events such as the terror attacks in Istanbul and in Orlando, when the Eiffel Tower was illuminated in the rainbow flag colors, followed by the American colors.”
As for whether the Empire State Building might go blue, a spokesman declined to comment. No Cunningham tribute appears on the Empire State Building Tower Lights calendar, which has been marked down for the next three nights: “Dynamic red, white and blue flourishes in honor of Independence Day.
The Eiffel Tower may not have turned blue to honor Cunningham, but France awarded the photographer with the Legion of Honor — the highest French distinction — in 2008. “He was very popular, just as much in Paris as in New York,” Didier Grumbach, president of honor of the Fédération Française de la Couture, du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode, said last week. The fashion industry across the board expressed sadness about Cunningham’s death.