In the three decades that photographer Bill Cunningham has shot for The New York Times, he has documented the changing fashion and social habits of New Yorkers. Wherever he snapped the chic around town, his signature blue jacket and preferred mode of transportation — a bicycle — have made him into a city icon, even if the press-shy septuagenarian is loath to accept such accolades. In addition to shooting for his “On the Street” and “Evening Hours” columns, Cunningham recently expanded his repertoire, offering an audio commentary to “On the Street” on nytimes.com.
This story first appeared in the September 9, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Bergdorf Goodman is staging a retrospective of Cunningham’s work, devoting its Fifth Avenue windows to the photographer this week. Together with the Times and the New York City Department of Transportation, the store will fete the paparazzo with a bash on Wednesday.
WWD caught up with Cunningham between shows to talk about the exhibit, fashion and celebrities.
WWD: How you feel about being celebrated this week?
Bill Cunningham: I don’t like it at all. I prefer to be invisible. I love the windows, though. I saw them last Friday and they really did a marvelous job. You know, they would have had to get everyone to sign off on the release, but they figured it out and worked around it.
WWD: Do you think the frenzy at fashion shows has become worse?
B.C.: No, I don’t think it’s worse at all. I think it’s marvelous.
WWD: What was the favorite fashion show or moment that you shot?
B.C.: It’s just not possible to pick one. There are way too many. Everywhere, you see interesting things. I just look for beautiful things.
WWD: What do you think about all the celebrities at the shows?
B.C.: I don’t pay attention to celebrities. I don’t photograph them. They don’t dress so… interestingly. They have stylists. I prefer real women who have their own taste.