BILL READY TO SPILL: A vodka soda wound up being the tipping point for Bill Cunningham to agree to a Q&A this fall with Fern Mallis at 92Y in Manhattan.

After trying off and on for two years to sway the famously shy street photographer, Mallis said she had lost all hope when he penned a letter to politely decline.

This story first appeared in the July 21, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

But an accidentally spilled drink at this year’s CFDA Awards wound up being all she needed. Fresh off a flight from India and wearing a saffron chiffon caftanlike frock she had bought there, Mallis wound up wearing her cocktail after Cunningham bumped her glass while taking notes.

“Poor Bill was horrified and so apoplectic in his apology. I told him, ‘It’s OK. It’s clear. It will dry. If it had been red wine, I would have killed you,’” Mallis said.

Once she convinced Cunningham that he needn’t worry about buying her a new dress or picking up the dry cleaner’s bill, she suggested a sit-down at the 92Y. The cycling shutterbug agreed to pedal over Sept. 3 for his interview.

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