MEMORY LANE: Most know Bill Cunningham as the cycling street style and society photographer for the New York Times. Fewer, however, may recall that millinery was how the blue-jacketed Cunningham got his start. In the Fifties and Sixties, Cunningham made extravagant, whimsical toppers under the William J label. On Wednesday, 23 of his creations will go on sale exclusively on through vintage fashion dealer Katy Kane. She got the hats through Alison Shacter, who considers the photographer a family friend and whose aunt, Mitty, was quite a collector of them. “I was astounded to hear all the stories, and to see the family photographs,” Kane recalled of her first visit to Shacter’s home. “He had a brief career as a milliner, and did it with such a sense of whimsy.” The sale is timed well: Cunningham is the honoree at the Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence Gala April 23.

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