x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Fashion-tracker gets tracked

Bill Cunningham New York looks into the life of the eccentric New York photographer.

A scene from Bill Cunningham New York.
A scene from Bill Cunningham New York.

Bill Cunningham New York Director: Richard Press

The eccentric New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham is described by someone from a design house as "the most important man in the world". Society women fear he'll portray them as fashion victims or worse, ignore them entirely.

Cunningham's weekly photo-collage, On the Street, is an unpredictable barometer of what's hot in street fashion. His party pictures at philanthropic events separate the glamorous from the merely rich.

Richard Press's documentary follows the man whom everyone in New York has seen at least once, braving Manhattan's treacherous traffic on his bicycle and wearing clothes that he repairs rather than replaces.

Cunningham is an oddity. In his eighties, he has the enthusiasm of someone one-third his age, with the boyish grin to match, plus an enviable eye for the new, new thing.

Press observes Cunningham at work - he has no personal time or personal life, and refuses to accept even a drink from the women whom he photographs. Finally, the fashion world has found someone who's not corruptible.

Yet Cunningham's life isn't all air kisses from the beautiful. Press catches up with him just as he (along with other colourful characters) is being forced out of the apartment above Carnegie Hall where he'd lived for decades. It's further evidence that no good deed is left unpunished as a page turns in New York history.