5 Things We Learned About Bill Cunningham Last Night
Let’s all just agree that Bill Cunningham is magical. The legendary fashion photographer kicked off the 92Y Talks season on September 3, interviewed by Fern Mallis as part of her Fashion Icons series.
The 85 year old dropped more pearls of wisdom and hilarious stories than our sold-out house could keep up with, traversing from delightful animation to tearing up about sensitive topics. Here are five things we learned from the New York Times photographer (although there were a lot more than five).
- He’ll wear a helmet “when it’s a law.” Cunningham is known for traveling exclusively by bicycle and doesn’t wear head protection.
- Growing up, Cunningham’s family didn’t have fashion magazines in the house. “I never knew they existed!” Cunningham said.
- Cunningham dyed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ red Dior suit black for JFK’s funeral. When Mallis commented about how incredible the story was, Cunningham replied, “It wasn’t amazing, it was practical!”
- Cunningham’s first editor at Women’s Wear Daily called him “a hopelessly functioning illiterate.” This one elicited big laughs from the crowd.
- The photographer, famous for his snapshots of street fashion, resents when people call his shooting tactics sneaky. “I’m trying to be discreet. I don’t want to frighten women on the street,” Cunningham said.
- (OK, here’s one more!) He refuses to give his photo files to museums or historical societies because he’s “terrorized” by the notion of unflattering shots of someone being published. “You take lots of bad pictures. You don’t publish them, for heavens sake!”