Look At Those Shoes!

Last night I watched a documentary that I saw a few years back, titled ‘Bill Cunningham New York‘. I remember loving it so much that I made a posting about it on my old blog ‘Everything Is Going Fine’.

A screenshot of the old posting from Everything Is Going Fine [aka E.I.G.F.].

I find Bill’s exuberant nature so inspiring and positive. I like the way he looks at things – he is very honest and is so appropriately knowledged and wise with his words. Despite the odd dark soul threatening him on the streets when his lens is pointed their way, Bill keeps his head high and keeps on rolling.

1980s, “Bill at work“.

His words of wisdom are unusually enthralling (in a world so full of negativity) – enough so, I just had to quote some.

“I started photographing people on the street during World War II. I used a little box Brownie. Nothing too expensive.”

“I go out every day. When I get depressed at the office, I go out, and as soon as I’m on the street and see people, I feel better. But I never go out with a preconceived idea. I let the street speak to me.” – “The best fashion show is definitely on the street. Always has been, and always will be.”

Patrick Demarchelier – Cunningham snaps Carolyn Murphy in Bazaar’s February 2002 issue.

“I don’t pay attention to celebrities. I don’t photograph them. They don’t dress so… interestingly. They have stylists. I prefer real women who have their own taste.” – “I’m not interested in celebrities, with their free dresses. I’m interested in clothes.

“The problem is I’m not a good photographer. To be perfectly honest, I’m too shy. Not aggressive enough. Well, I’m not aggressive at all. I just loved to see wonderfully dressed women, and I still do. That’s all there is to it.”Bill Cunningham


“The hat thing was really, as I say, it was like sculpture.”.

“It’s as true today as it ever was, he who seeks beauty will find it.”
Bill’s hat design work intrigues me. I enjoy hats, and in the past few years i’ve awoken to how much the fashion or custom of wearing a hat (of some style at all) has slowly diminished in society. It is possible that if I move to a well-cultured town like New York City, I may find that notion to be invalid. Living in bogan-town, rat-tail’s are the current fashions for locals around Western Sydney. But lets ignore that fad of dirt – this posting is of good taste in essence – for I love the positivity in Bill’s work.
For over a century, the apartments in Carnegie Hall have been home to a vast assortment of writers, designers, photographers, dancers, actors, circus performers, floral artists, and creative people of all stripes; Cunningham occupied one of five remaining rent-controlled units which are being closed down so that the building can be fully converted into a music school. When he first moved to New York, Cunningham became a milliner and assisted the fashion photographer Ray Solowinski; Solowinski’s wife modeled Cunningham’s hats.

Solowinski’s wife, left; Ray Solowinski, right.

Editta Sherman, a celebrity photographer who lived as a neighbor to Bill in Carnegie Hall (often referred to as the “Duchess of Carnegie Hall”). I love her work – what a place to have lived in for so many years. All the history, singular to one building; so interesting. Stories about people and buildings-alike, intrigue me. The building even reminds me of the character depicted as the Pigeon Lady from Home Alone 2 – who lived in a loft above Carnegie Hall.

Cunningham with Carnegie Hall neighbour & fellow photographer Editta Sherman in the 1970s.

I can’t wait to see what Bill gets up to in the years to come (I always read his paper clipping that gets tack’d on the newsboard occasionally, in the main hallway at TAFE). I can only hope that I live to see the same kind of creative and professional prime “time” in/of my own life!

Never stop smiling!


Update, November 4th ’13: “We are saddened to announce the loss of our Duchess, Editta Sherman on November 1, 2013. She lived a sparkling and vibrant 101 years! We love you Editta and will miss you. You were a true artist who lived each day with a double dose of “Joie de vivre” and an exultation of spirit!” [via]

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