Bill Cunningham, the New York Times fashion photographer known for his shots of emerging trends on the streets of New York City, died on Saturday at age of 87 after being hospitalized for a stroke, the newspaper said.
Cunningham worked for the New York Times for nearly 40 years, operating “as a dedicated chronicler of fashion and as an unlikely cultural anthropologist,” the newspaper said.
His photo spreads were a staple of the paper’s Style section and chronicled changing fashion through his choice of themes such as swirling skirts, Birkin bags and gaudy floral prints.
“A lot of people complain about fashion and fast fashion. There is no fashion. That is baloney. Look at this,” he said in a video for a recent spread in the paper on the use of black and white contrasts in clothing.
Cunningham took pictures of celebrated New Yorkers at swank events and traveled the city for decades on his bicycle, shooting fashion that he saw in street scenes.
“He wanted to find subjects, not be the subject. He wanted to observe, rather than be observed. Asceticism was a hallmark of his brand,” the newspaper said.
His life was one of austerity. He slept on a single size cot where he lived until 2010 in a studio above Carnegie Hall, chock full of file cabinets containing his negatives.
When asked why he spent years ripping up checks for his work from magazines, he said, “Money’s the cheapest thing. Liberty and freedom is the most expensive,” the Times reported.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Mary Milliken)