It’s New York Fashion Week, with all the usual fanfare, familiar faces, and beautiful excess. For a short time NYC becomes temporary home to the transient, beautiful people who make up the fashion world from designers, to models, celebrities, and the everyday fashion heroes. Yet among the familiar faces, the pomp and circumstance, and explosions of speedlite flashes, there is a massive void that hasn’t been felt for almost the past half century. One man, Bill Cunningham, perhaps the one true denizen of the NYC fashion world, who embodied and loved the fashion of NYC better than any other—a true icon in his own right—died earlier this year.
Though he won’t be seen riding about town on his bicycle, the fashion world has not forgotten and his signature blue jacket is to be found everywhere in a fitting tribute.
At the grand age of 87, Bill left the fashion world after some 40 years of relentlessly and lovingly photographing the street and runway fashion of NYC. And while women of New York would ‘all dress for Bill’, it’s the photographers who are dressing like Bill by donning the coats Bill was so known for.
The story goes that Bill bought the jacket from a hardware store in Paris during their own fashion week, picking it up for less than $20, and mainly for its unmistakable color, and the fact it had pockets enough, and of adequate size for the rolls of film he would quickly go through. If you ever saw Bill on the streets in NYC, or indeed anywhere else, the jacker itself needs no introduction, and around 75 photographers this year have worn the jackets in homage.
Furthermore, 50 Bistro Chairs at Bryant Park have been distributed in the shape of a 35mm film camera, each with a cover of a similar material and color to the notorious jacket, symbolizing Bill’s singular front row status, and each with a photo of Bill attached.
Catherine Bennett, Managing Director of IMG Fashion issued a statement and sentiment many will share:
Though he’s no longer with us, Bill Cunningham’s legacy lives on. We see his influence every day on the streets of New York, and we miss him…As New York Fashion Week kicks off, we acknowledge this incredible man through the individuals who will carry on his passion for life and love of fashion.
It seems, New York will always still dress for Bill.