Bill Cunningham passed away yesterday aged 87.
The inimitable New York Times fashion photographer, best known for pioneering “street style” photography, suffered a stroke last week for which he was hospitalised.
Cunningham famously cycled around New York City wearing his signature blue French workman’s jacket, capturing on film anyone stylish who caught his eye. His 40-year tenure at The New York Times is legendary and his career had a spotlight cast on it with the release of the 2010 documentary Bill Cunningham New York.
The news of his passing has devastated the fashion world, with an outpouring of tributes being posted to social media from friends, colleagues, celebrities and fans alike:
Iris Apfel, friend and fashion icon
Jeremy Scott, Moschino creative director
THIS IS THE FIRST PHOTO BILL CUNNINGHAM TOOK OF ME. I WAS 18 YEARS OLD AND WAS OFFERED A TICKET TO THE CFDA AWARDS FROM SCHOOL. I WAS ALL DOLLED UP IM MY FANCY DUDZ W A VINTAGE TOP HAT AND SCARF. I FELT SO COOL & THAT WAS VALIDATED 100% WHEN BILL SNAPED MY PHOTO. THE NEXT DAY WHEN I WAS BACK AT SCHOOL WORKING AT THE JOB PLACEMENT CENTER ON CAMPUS THE PHONE RANG I ANSWERED IT AND IT WAS NONE OTHER THAN BILL CUNNINGHAM !!! HE SAID I TOOK SOME PICTURES LAST NIGHT AT THE CFDA OF SOME STUDENTS FROM PRATT AND NEED HELP TO FIND THEIR NAMES – I ENTHUSIASTICALLY REPLIED YOU PHOTOGRAPHED ME !!! I WAS WEARING THE TOP HAT AND SCARF WITH THE SLIT LEG TUXEDO PANTS THAT WAS ME !!! THAT WAS MEEE !!! OH GOOD BILL EXCLAIMED AND TOLD ME I LOOKED FANTASTIC & DESCRIBED THE LOOKS OF MY FRIENDS SO I COULD GIVE HIM THEIR NAMES TOO. ( THIS WAS PRE INTERNET REMEMBER ! ) HE THANKED ME AND GENEROUSLY SENT ME A PRINT OF THE PHOTO ! HIS VALIDATION OF MY PERSONAL STYLE GAVE ME SO MUCH FUEL TO BELIEVE I WAS ON THE RIGHT PATH AT THAT VERY TENDER AGE. AS HE WAS ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO INSPIRED ME TO WANT TO GO INTO FASHION THIS MENT THE WORLD TO ME, HE MENT THE WORLD TO ME. #RIPBILLCUNNINGHAM
DEVASTATED ABOUT THE NEWS OF BILL CUNNIGHAM PASSING. HE PHOTOGRAPHED ME SINCE I WAS 18 WHEN I FIRST CAME TO NYC. THIS PHOTO IS AFTER MY LAST SHOW IN FEBRUARY WHEN I CAME OUT INTO THE SNOW AND THERE HE WAS STILL SHOOTING WATCHING FOR ALL THE EXCITING LOOKS ! HE TOLD ME TO KEEP GIVING EM HELL ! WHICH MADE ME GIGGLE I CHERISH ALL THE MEMORIES OF HIM AT MY SHOWS OVER THE YEARS. SHOOTING ME FROM WHEN I WAS A STUDENT UP INTIL THIS LAST MET GALA. THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER AND THERE WILL ALWAYS BE AN EMPTY HOLE IN MY HEART FROM HIS ABSENCE. #RIPBILLCUNNINGHAM 🙏🏼📸😇
Vera Wang, designer
Lena Dunham, actor and author
Saw Bill out and about doing his thing for the first time when I was 7- I didn't know who he was but I knew he made everyone important stop and adjust. It was the exact same vibe when I saw him a month ago, fancy people suddenly unsure in the presence of this special eccentric. He was powerful but he was gentle and kind. He had vision and he will be missed. Drawing by @joanaavillez 🍎
Naomi Campbell, model
Dear Bill Cunningham got to know you since #1986 , you always had the biggest smile that would light up a city, always called me kid when I was way beyond one . And So elegant you always was . So sad to lose you such a great man with a beautiful soul . Going to the Metball and any other big fashion red carpets will not be the same without you . I love you always , condolences to your family #RIP ❤️❤️🙏🏾
Gigi Hadid, model
I remember being almost starstruck the first time Bill Cunningham stepped in front of me w/ his camera on the street. He's told incredible —
— Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) June 25, 2016
— real-life fashion stories with his photos, and his spirit will live forever in the industry. #RIPBillCunningham – a fashion icon
— Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) June 25, 2016
— Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) June 25, 2016
Nina Garcia, Marie Claire creative director
RIP my dear #billcunningham. You made us love fashion. You left a huge mark in all of us. I will always remember you like this: taking a photo and smiling. I will miss you. So sad I won't be seeing you outside the show photographing the best street style. Always helping fashion move forward with your pictures and commentary.
Eva Chen, Head of Fashion at Instagram / former editor-in-chief Lucky magazine
I can still remember the first time I was shot by #BillCunningham. I called my boyfriend (now husband) @sxmco bellowing something along the lines of "omgbillcunninghamshotmeomg". The buzz and excitement of having his lens on you even for a nanosecond never got old. RIP to the great Bill, whose infectious and giddy love of fashion truly reflects the best of the industry, whose camera invented the street style category, and whose work ethic is a reminder to find a job you love and do it with gusto. Perfect illustration of Bill by @thingslizwants.
Rodarte (Kate and Laura Mulleavy), designers
RIP Bill Cunningham. A legend. 💔 We are heartbroken. His creative spirit and presence has forever impacted our artistic community. 💔 NYC will not be the same without him. We will miss his laugh, smile and his ever present camera that he used to engage the world while creating something so deeply personal. 💔 We toast in his honor. ❤️ #billcunningham
Anne Hathaway, actress
Joanna Coles, Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief
One of the nicest men in fashion. Frequently gave up his seat at a show if you arrived late and he saw u standing. https://t.co/ROX9q0hcQw
— joanna coles (@JoannaColes) June 25, 2016
Jason Wu, designer
I consider myself truly lucky to have met Bill throughout my career-he was energetic, inspiring, and always passionate. His extraordinary work ethic and dedication to his craft inspired me to work harder everyday. Today we lost a true fashion icon. Bill, you will be missed by us all. #ripbillcunningham 😥
Jaime King, actress and model
US Vogue magazine
Marc Jacobs, designer
— Marc Jacobs (@marcjacobs) June 25, 2016
Hamish Bowles, European editor-at-large at US Vogue
Garance Dore, author and street style photographer
Some legends walk by you and you hardly notice them because that's exactly what they want. Bill Cunningham was like this, and all his life he was able to keep that fire and the perfect distance from his subject, distance that allowed him to do the work that he did. He was always going, going, going, rain, snow, heat, always smiling. He is a role model for many photographers, and definitely for me, though I always knew I could never touch that level of dedication – and of selflessness. So at the shows, I used to let him go go go and just tried to not get in his way, that was the best way to show him all the good things I thought about him… Because as you can imagine, he didn't care for a selfie. Goodbye Bill, you will be missed. Photo by @thesartorialist who loved taking photos of Bill… #BillCunningham
Saks Fifth Avenue
Drew Barrymore, actress
ALL HAIL BILL CUNNINGHAM! He was a legend. One of a kind. Beyond special and unique. Watch BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK, the incredible documentary on his life. Every time I would see him at an event with his camera I would watch him and marvel. He put so many beautiful images into the world and saw people and fashion in a way that will always be iconic to him.
Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist author and street style photographer
I always loved sitting across or near Bill Cunningham @workforbillc at a fashion show. If it was a more dramatic show like Vickor & Rolf he would look like a kid in a candy store! While all the other editors carried a very studied nonchalance Bill was all smiles and almost physically snapping at the looks with his camera. What Bills work meant to me wasn't about perfect light or composition or edit but about the pure joy and energy he brought to doing the job. Bravo Bill !!
Molly Ringwald, actress
At Cindy Sherman's MOMA opening, Bill Cunningham swooped in snapped my gloves saying "Oh aren't these marvelous!" Never felt so well dressed
— Molly Ringwald (@MollyRingwald) June 25, 2016
Rosetta Getty, designer
Maggie Rizer, model
I so truly enjoyed watching Mr. Cunningham work as he did it so joyfully. More then on the catwalk or at fancy events, I always loved seeing him randomly on some corner of NYC, riding his bicycle and snapping away at anything and everything fashionable. Such a legend, sweet and happy man. May we all love what we do that much. #BillCunningham #NYC #RestInPeace
Carine Roitfeld, former editor-in-chief Paris Vogue