Year Released: 2010
Director: Richard Press
Features: Bill Cunningham, Anna Wintour, Michael Kors, Tom Wolfe, and everyone else important in the fashion world
Bill Cunningham New York follows The New York Times Styles photographer around doing his daily routine– riding on his bicycle on Fifth Avenue capturing his subjects, sitting in the Times office placing the photographs for the Sunday Styles, and organizing his negatives in the many file cabinets in his Carnegie Hall studio apartment.
Cunningham is a saint, a philosopher, and above all, a communicator.
I hesitate to describe Cunningham as an artist, because what he stands for is beyond the beautiful photographs of the city’s street style. He is a controlled fixture in a society that engorges itself in excess. He attends charity galas, but does not accept a meal or a drink or even a glass of water. He lives in the center of the world, but he enjoys his small, yet cozy, loft in Carnegie Hall riding his bicycle. He could demand a much higher paycheck, but prefers to live simply and modestly.
Cunningham’s simplicity and honest approach towards life is something we can all learn from. It amazes me that a man so involved with the material world, documenting fashion trends on the street, detaches himself from those bodily pleasures. Unlike the luxurious coats he has photographed, he does not own one himself. He loves his inexpensive blue poncho that can be mended with duct tape. He does not care for fine dining, let alone eating. He claims to not have any romantic relationships.
I have come to the conclusion that certain aspects of Cunningham make him the perfect subject of a philosophic examination. Cunningham is above the pettiness of celebrity dramas. His honesty empowers him because it shows his strength in his abilities and makes him honorable. His simple way of life demonstrates his true passion for life and appreciating its beauty. Most importantly, Cunningham is genuinely content with his way of life. Realizing that happiness is life’s ultimate goal, Cunningham is willing to chase his happiness instead of consuming himself with worries over health, wealth, and security.
For those of you who are more well versed in philosophy, I am more than aware I have clearly distorted Plato, Aristotle, and Machiavelli, but you must recognize that Cunningham embodies some of these teachings of selflessness, silent strength, simplicity, and satisfaction with life.
For more on Bill Cunningham and his work with The New York Times, click here.