Bill Cunningham, the legendary New York Times fashion photographer, has died at 87. He had been recently hospitalized after having a stroke, and the Times confirmed his passing.
In his nearly 40 years taking pictures of New York’s colorful characters, Cunningham became an indelible fixture of the fashion and social scenes, wearing his signature blue jacket and often riding a bicycle. Over his incredible career, he tracked the city’s street style from the downtown set to the mainstream, and thrilled in the city’s characters that pushed boundaries with how they dressed. "Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life," he said. "I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization."
In a documentary about his life, Anna Wintour declared, "I’ve said many times, we all get dressed for Bill." For the fashion community, to be sure, New York Fashion Week will never be the same.
Cunningham’s work relied on observation, and he shied away from the spotlight—even in the wake of numerous awards and honors, from the French Legion d’Honneur to the CFDA Media Award. The New York Landmarks Conservancy even named him a Living Landmark in 2009.
In his obituary for the Times Jacob Bernstein writes, "The sartorial moments Cunningham captured spanned 40 years, and his portfolio as a whole is notable for charting the move from formal conformity to the individual style now celebrated by the street-style photographers who have followed in his path."