According to The New York Times, iconic fashion photographer Bill Cunningham has passed away at the age of 87. Known for memorializing trends ranging from “fanny packs and Birkin bags to gingham shirts and fluorescent biker shorts,” the Boston native had been hospitalized recently after having a stroke.
“In his nearly 40 years working for The Times, Mr. Cunningham operated both as a dedicated chronicler of fashion and as an unlikely cultural anthropologist, one who used the changing dress habits of the people he photographed to chart the broader shift away from formality and toward something more diffuse and individualistic,” Times journalist Jacob Bernstein eloquently wrote.
In 2009, Cunningham was named a “Living Landmark” by the New York Landmarks Conservancy and profiled in The New Yorker, which described his columns “On the Street” and “Evening Hours” as New York City’s “unofficial yearbook.”
Bernstein reported Cunningham didn’t own a television or go to the movies and always at breakfast at Stage Star Deli on West 55th Street. Until 2010, he lived in a studio above Carnegie Hall “amid rows and rows of file cabinets, where he kept all of his negatives.”
He allegedly slept on a single-size cot and showered in a shared bathroom. Cunningham was apparently an eccentric character. When asked why he spent years tearing up checks from magazines like Details, he said: “Money’s the cheapest thing. Liberty and freedom is the most expensive.”
The New York Times‘ publisher and chairman, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., said, “We have lost a legend, and I am personally heartbroken to have lost a friend.”