Fashionistas and Journalists Gather to Celebrate Bill Cunningham

by Kristopher Fraser Photographed by Anna Wintour
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bill Cunningham was easily one of the most legendary fashion photographers of all time. My most distinct memory of one of New York’s greatest fixtures was during New York Fashion Week fall/winter 2016. I was at Skylight Moynihan station getting ready to walk into a show at The Arc. My friend, standing on my left, was wearing a multi-colored fur coat that was a street style dream.

Cunnigham seemed to agree with my sentiment, because next thing we knew a flash went off in our faces, and on the other side of the camera was the legend himself. “Bill Cunnighman just took my photo,” my friend gasped while fanning herself with a program from the last runway show she just attended.

He was a man of small stature, but when he saw something he really liked, his face would light up like a candle and his aura would just wash over everything. At the time I had been a year into my career as a fashion editor, and to watch greatness such as his at work was a privilege that I would never forget. Unfortunately, I can’t predict the future, and little did I know at the time, that was the last I would get to see the great legend at work. On June 25, 2016, just several months before New York Fashion Week: Men’s would take place, he passed away.

At Carnegie Hall last night, October 17, the world of fashionistas and journalists who had knew, worked with and long admired Cunningham and his work came together to celebrate his memory one more time.

Cunningham had spent most of his life living above Carnegie Hall in a tiny apartment. He had no desire to ever leave, and finally had to move to a different apartment in 2011 when the trustees of Carnegie Hall voted to make room for educational programs in the space. According to New York Magazine, Sandy Weill, the former chairman of Carnegie Hall, discussed finding an apartment that would satisfy Cunningham when he moved out. The photographer’s only requests were that it not be bigger than the apartment he currently had, and that it would have a shared bathroom down the hall.

The event opened with a speech by New York Times published Arthur Sulzberger Jr. Sulzberger was followed by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who read a poem by Lord Byron So We’ll Go No More a Roving. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a speech honoring Cunningham as well.

Other speakers included The Times’s John Kurdewan and Joanna NikasDiana DiMennaSandy and Joan WeillHeidi RosenauAnne Hawley, Patricia Simonson, William Rudin, and Carnegie Hall president Vartan Gregorian.

The Canarsie Wabblers also gave a special performance which guests thoroughly enjoyed.

Other notable attendees included Dean BaquetEva ChenGrace Coddington, ImanIris Apfel, Lynn YaegerLeandra MedineMichael Kors, Naomi CampbellPadma LakshmiRalph LaurenTavi GevinsonVanessa FriedmanVera Wang and Zac Posen.


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