Art / Culture / event

Facades: Bill Cunningham, Legendary Street Fashion Photographer


There are few things in life that I consider predictable. Case in point: Sunday mornings. Waking up a little later, eating a full breakfast, going to church and reading The New York Times weekend edition. Ever since I can remember, it’s been the same on Sundays. I’ll flip through the weekend issue’s jam-packed pages and reach for the only section that really matters to me (well, on the weekend that is): the Sunday Styles. Fashion, design, art, socialite news, weddings (ah my favorite) are all splashed upon this section’s heavily ad-laden pages.

Historic street fashion photographer, Bill Cunningham has been a longstanding fixture of the Times’ Sunday Styles section for his “On the Street” column featuring candid photos of people out on the streets of Manhattan. His photographs document not only fashion but their time and place, making Cunningham a modern, cultural anthropologist. Cunningham’s impromptu visual exposés are just as interesting to me as the man behind the camera. The 85-year old photographer is often seen riding around on his Schwinn bicycle (his preferred mode of transportation) wearing his signature blue sports jacket and snapping photos with a large film SLR camera slung around his neck.

On Friday, March 14th, the New-York Historical Society will be showing Bill Cunningham’s photography series from 1968 entitled, Facades. For this series, Cunningham collected over 500 vintage outfits and photographed models wearing them in over 1,800 historic New York locations. What resulted is a euphoric documentation of fashion, history and architecture on the streets of New York City. It’s a great peek at Cunningham’s unique depictions of fashion and culture while also exploring his roots as a street fashion photographer.

In 1968, photographer Bill Cunningham embarked on an eight-year project to document the architectural riches and fashion history of New York City. Scouring the city’s thrift stores, auction houses, and street fairs for vintage clothing, and scouting sites on his bicycle, Cunningham generated a photographic essay entitled Facades, which paired models—in particular his muse, fellow photographer Editta Sherman—in period costumes with historic settings.

Take a look at these beautiful shots below or head on over to see the full collection in person at the New-York Historical Society until June 15th.

Do you recognize these famous NYC backdrops?

Source & Photos: New York Magazine, New-York Historical Society


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