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Fashion Through Bill Cunningham Eyes

As we all know, New York City is the capital of fashion. But really, when you hear the phrase “street fashion,” you would probably think of it in a way that is entirely different from the blue-jacketed photographer Bill Cunningham.

Starting out as a milliner, Bill didn’t think of himself as a good photographer but he was very gifted in picking out the latest trends. He’s known for having those “right eyes” and “taste” for a certain kind of look considered to be “stunning.”

At the age of nineteen, Bill came to New York to work as an advertiser in hopes of a business career, but he knew that he was much more interested in fashion. Around the 1950s, he got his own place and started making hats for a living. After being drafted to the Korean War and returning in 1953, Bill continued to work as a writer and later on wrote for The Chicago Tribune. That marked the start of his street fashion photography days.

Fashion Through Bill Cunningham Eyes

Bill received his first camera as a gift and started taking pictures and recording fashion on the streets. His first street fashion piece was published in The Daily News. Starting in the early 70s, Bill became photographer for The Times.

Fashion Through Bill Cunningham Eyes

That’s when he realized that although his main focus was on photographing clothes that he found astonishing, at times he would be photographing famous people he didn’t even know of. It was because of this that he became recognized for his photography. He would go around the city everyday on his bike and wearing his blue jacket keeping an eye out for the “stunners.” His idea behind covering street fashion was this: yes, we’ve already seen the designs from fashion shows, so what we need is the view from the streets to fully grasp what people are really wearing.

Fashion Through Bill Cunningham Eyes

This is how ON THE STREET started and where Bill Cunningham would present no fewer than 20 photographs that represent the current latest trends.

Fashion Through Bill Cunningham Eyes

In his recent article “Nothing Stays Gold,” Bill take photos of people in the mid-5th Avenue area. The clothes he captured have a unique vintage look and represent the unique tastes of the wearers. When Bill Cunningham takes pictures, you can really see how fashion plays a role in the surroundings he’s in and understand the social habits of New Yorkers. In this particular collection of photos, one can really sense the high-end crisp feeling of the clothing just by looking at the bold colors and details. So if you’re wondering what 5th Avenue New Yorkers dress like, except to see this.

Fashion Through Bill Cunningham Eyes

Another recent piece by Bill called “Winter Fashion Begins” takes place all around the city where he talks about the sudden change of weather in New York and how it directly and immediately changes the fashion. The colors of autumn influence people to dress in the colors of golden leaves and dark brown trees seen all around New York City. Bill also notices that many New Yorkers go from light simple clothes to dramatic thick scarves and bundles of layered clothes, emphasizing the varying styles of jackets and coats mainly the currently trending trench coat and detailed buttoned military jacket. Style alert: trench coats are back, as are thick scarves and military jackets!

Fashion Through Bill Cunningham Eyes

Iris Apfel on Bill

Bill Cunningham not only has the eyes for the latest trends, but he also goes out of his way to experience what people are wearing. Today, he has become one of the most notable people in the fashion world and continues to document the dynamic street fashion of New York City. And you can be sure that he tells it like it is.

You can check out Bill Cunningham in The New York Times:

Fashion Through Bill Cunningham Eyes

Photo Credit: The New York Times, Google Images

This article was happily contributed by:


Nasya is a New York-based student of the Fashion Institute of Technology majoring in Fashion Merchandising Management. With a creative background in art and design from the High School of Art and Design, Nasya discovered her love for fashion at an early age. Nasya is friendly, likes to try new things and surround herself with anything art-related, and loves to eat!

Filed under: Style & Beauty


Stephanie is the founder and curator of Chléa Living, and copywriter for Chléa Consulting. A peanut butter lover and a sucker for big band music, Stephanie loves to bake, karaoke, and obsesses over making lists. Her biggest pet peeve is a messy space, which is why she loves cleaning and organizing. While she loves waking up in the morning to make a smoothie and meditate, her secret dream is to win an eating competition (shhh). Follow @stephaniejaya on Instagram for a daily dose of all things sunny, happy, and yummy!

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