Photo by The Sartorialist.
There are days when you feel restless and annoyed, unsure of yourself and bored with everything. Nothing is right. Everything is limp. The brain feels overstretched and chewed over, like a discarded piece of chewing gum stuck to the sole of your shoe. I call those days ‘Sundays’.
Sundays are made for couples – providing, of course, that they both have the same opinion on football. If you’re single, Sundays are usually made for the television.
In moments of laziness and indecision, it’s often a good idea to pop the TV on. The Spurs match not being entirely enticing, I flicked onto the hard drive to see what treasures were stored there. A Beyonce documentary (nah), Gone With The Wind (tempting, but too long) and three BBC4 documentaries about women’s issues (that I doubt I’d process very well after a glass or two of wine). As you can tell, I live in a very pro-woman household – that or someone spontaneously deleted all my brother’s carefully recorded episodes of Family Guy and American Dad again.
I ended up watching ‘Bill Cunningham New York’, a lovely feelgood documentary about the well-respected New York Times street style photographer. It’s a study in integrity, passion and the insane capacity for knowledge that a love of fashion – indeed any art or craft – can inspire. If you have not watched it, I beg you to go and do so. Even if the thought of fashion trends makes you want to vomit, watch it. Even if you’re only using this page to clear up dog poop (I applaud you for recycling, I really do) and this sentence manages to catch your eye, watch it. You will not regret it. Put the paper in the bin first though. Or frame it. Whatever, I’m not bothered.
Bill Cunningham is one of those rare important people in the fashion industry who simply reports style instead of dictating it. Every day, he puts on his cheap blue smock, loads his camera with film and cycles the street of new York on his Schwinn, looking for something beautiful to photograph.
In ‘Bill on Bill’, a rare autobiographical piece that Cunningham wrote in 2002, he said, “Back in the 60′s, I remember that Eleanor Nangle and I were sitting at one of Oscar de la Renta’s first shows in New York when she heard antiwar protesters down in the street. She said: “Come on, Bill, we’re leaving. The action isn’t here.”” We got up and skipped out of the show. I knew from photographing people on the streets that the news was not in the showrooms. It was on the streets.”
This was written a full ten years before street style blew up – some might say right in our faces. And yet, whether you are aware of street style or not, Bill Cunningham remains, unchanging. He’s one of the most important chroniclers of our time, and has been for several decades. He’s a burst of warm sunshine – the perfect person to get to know on a self-conscious Sunday.