Bill Cunningham, Legendary Times Fashion Photographer, Dies at 87
Bill Cunningham, the street-style photographer whose photo essays for The New York Times memorialized trends ranging from fanny packs to Birkin bags, gingham shirts and fluorescent biker shorts, died Saturday in New York. He was 87.
He had been hospitalized recently after having a stroke. His death was confirmed by The New York Times.
In his nearly 40 years working for The Times, 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.
At the Pierre hotel on the East Side of Manhattan, he pointed his camera at tweed-wearing blue-blood New Yorkers with names like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt. Downtown, by the piers, he clicked away at crop-top wearing Voguers. Up in Harlem, he jumped off his bicycle — he rode more than 30 over the years, replacing one after another as they were wrecked or stolen — for B-boys in low-slung jeans.
In the process, he turned into something of a celebrity himself.
In 2008, Cunningham went to Paris, where the French government bestowed him with the Legion d’Honneur. Back in New York, he was celebrated at Bergdorf Goodman, where a life-size mannequin of him, as slight and bony-thin as ever, was installed in the window.
2008年，坎宁安前往巴黎接受法国政府授予他的荣誉军团勋章(Legion d’Honneur)。他回到纽约后，波道夫·古德曼百货公司(Bergdorf Goodman)为了表示祝贺，在橱窗里摆放他的真人大小模型，和他本人一样消瘦。
In 2009, he 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 the city’s unofficial yearbook, “an exuberant, sometimes retroactively embarrassing chronicle of the way we looked.”
2009年，他被纽约地标建筑保护委员会(New York Landmarks Conservancy)列为活地标(Living Landmark)，《纽约客》(The New Yorker)在关于他的特写文章中称，他的“街头”(On the Street)和“晚间时光”(Evening Hours)专栏是纽约市的非官方年鉴，“他对我们的着装方式进行了丰富的记录，有些回头再看也会令人感到尴尬。”
In 2010, a documentary film, “Bill Cunningham New York,” premiered at the Museum of Modern Art to glowing reviews.
2010年，纪录片《我们都为比尔着盛装》(Bill Cunningham New York)在现代艺术博物馆(Museum of Modern Art)首映，获得各界盛赞。
Yet Cunningham told nearly anyone who asked about it that the attendant publicity was a total hassle, a reason for strangers to approach and bother him.
He wanted to find subjects, not be the subject. He wanted to observe, rather than be observed. Asceticism was a hallmark of his brand.
Cunningham’s position as a perennial outsider among a set of consummate insiders was part of what made him uniquely well suited to The Times.
“His company was sought after by the fashion world’s rich and powerful, yet he remained one of the kindest, most gentle and humble people I have ever met,” said Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., the Times’s publisher and chairman. “We have lost a legend, and I am personally heartbroken to have lost a friend.”
“时尚界的权势人物都欢迎他的陪伴，但他仍是我见过的最友好、最温和、最谦逊的人之一，”时报出版人兼董事长小阿瑟·奥克斯·苏兹伯格(Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.)说，“我们失去了一位传奇，从我个人来说，我失去了一位朋友，这让我感到伤心。”
Dean Baquet, the Times’s executive editor, said: “He was a hugely ethical journalist. And he was incredibly open-minded about fashion. To see a Bill Cunningham street spread was to see all of New York. Young people. Brown people. People who spent fortunes on fashion, and people who just had a strut and knew how to put an outfit together out of what they had and what they found.”
Michele McNally, The Times’s director of photography, said: “Bill was an extraordinary man, his commitment and passion unparalleled, his gentleness and humility inspirational. Even though his talents were very well known, he preferred to be anonymous, something unachievable for such a superstar. I will miss him every day.”
Cunningham particularly loved eccentrics, whom he collected like precious seashells.
Cunningham’s most frequent observation spot during the day was Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, where he became as much a part of the scenery as Tiffany & Co. His camera clicked constantly as he spotted fashions and moved with gazellelike speed to record his subjects at just the right angle.
坎宁安白天最常去的观察点是第五大道和第57街，他和蒂芙尼珠宝公司(Tiffany & Co.)一样成为街景的一部分。一旦发现时尚，他就以羚羊般的速度移动，找到最佳角度，不停地按下快门，记录他的拍摄对象。
“Everyone knew to leave him alone when he saw a sneaker he liked or a dress that caught his eye,” said Harold Koda, the former curator in charge at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
“大伙儿都知道，当他看上一双运动鞋或一条裙子时，不要去打扰他，”大都会艺术博物馆(Metropolitan Museum of Art)服装学院(Costume Institute)的前策展主管哈罗德·科达(Harold Koda)说。
“Because if you were in the way of someone he wanted to photograph,” said Kim Hastreiter, the editor of Paper Magazine and a friend of Cunningham’s, “he would climb over you to get it. He was like a war photographer that way, except that what he was photographing were clothes.”
“因为如果你挡住了他想拍的人，”《Paper Magazine》的主编、坎宁安的好友基姆·哈斯特莱斯塔(Kim Hastreiter)说。“他会从你身上翻过去拍照。那种感觉像战地记者，只不过他拍的是服装。”
“When I’m photographing,” Cunningham once said, “I look for the personal style with which something is worn — sometimes even how an umbrella is carried or how a coat is held closed. At parties, it’s important to be almost invisible, to catch people when they’re oblivious to the camera — to get the intensity of their speech, the gestures of their hands. I’m interested in capturing a moment with animation and spirit.”
William John Cunningham Jr. was born March 13, 1929, in Boston, the second of four children in an Irish-Catholic family.
小威廉·约翰·坎宁安(William John Cunningham Jr.)于1929年3月13日出生于波士顿一个爱尔兰天主教家庭，是家中四个孩子中的老二。
In middle school, he used bits of material he got from a dime store to put together hats, one of which he gave to his mother to wear to the New York World’s Fair in 1939. “She never wore it,” Cunningham once said. “My family all thought I was a little nuts.”
As a teenager, he got a part-time job at the department store Bonwit Teller, then received a scholarship to Harvard only to drop out after two months. “They thought I was an illiterate,” Cunningham said. “I was hopeless — but I was a visual person.”
With nothing to do in Boston and his parents pressuring him to find some direction, he moved to New York, where he took a room with an uncle, Tom Harrington, who had an ownership stake in an advertising agency.
“My family thought they could indoctrinate me in that business, that living with my uncle, it would brush off,” Cunningham said. “But it didn’t work. I had always been interested in fashion.”
So when Harrington issued his nephew an ultimatum — “quit making hats or get out of my apartment” — Cunningham chose the latter, relocating to East 52nd Street to a ground-floor apartment that doubled as a showroom for his fox-edged fedoras and zebra-stenciled toques.
To make extra money, Cunningham began freelancing a column in Women’s Wear Daily, then quit sometime in the early 1960s after getting into a feud with its publisher, John Fairchild, over who was a better designer: André Courrèges or Yves Saint Laurent.
为了多挣些钱，坎宁安开始在《女装日报》(Women’s Wear Daily)上以自由撰稿人的身份开设专栏。在20世纪60年代早期的某个时候，由于与出版人约翰·费尔柴尔德(John Fairchild)就安德烈·库雷热(André Courrèges)和伊夫·圣罗兰(Yves Saint Laurent)谁是更好的设计师发生争执，他停止与该报合作。
Around 1967, he got his first camera and used it to take pictures of the “Summer of Love,” when he realized the action was out on the street. He started taking assignments for The Daily News and The Chicago Tribune, and he became a regular contributor to The Times in the late 1970s, though over the next two decades, he declined repeated efforts by his editors to take a staff position.
1967年前后，他有了第一部相机，用它拍摄“爱之夏”运动(Summer of Love)，就是这个时期，他意识到，真正的运动在街头。他开始接受《每日新闻》(The Daily News)和《芝加哥论坛报》(The Chicago Tribune)的拍摄任务。20世纪70年代末，他开始经常给时报投稿，不过在接下来的20年里，他拒绝成为时报的全职员工，尽管编辑们多次邀请。
“Once people own you,” he would say, “they can tell you what to do. So don’t let ‘em.”
That changed in 1994 after Cunningham was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle. Explaining why he had finally accepted the Times’s offer, he said, “It was a matter of health insurance.”
Cunningham also resisted the trends of celebrity dressing. He had seen actresses in their fishtail dresses preening and posing before the phalanxes of photographers at ceremonies like the Golden Globes and the Oscars. They were poised. They looked pretty. Yet he simply could not muster enthusiasm for them.
It wasn’t simply that he was nostalgic for another time, back when famous women like Lauren Bacall and Brooke Astor actually dressed themselves. That era may have held a certain appeal for him, but even when he was in his 70s and 80s, he still had plenty of subjects he loved to shoot.
这不只是因为他怀念另一个时代——那时，劳伦·巴考尔(Lauren Bacall)和布鲁克·阿斯特(Brooke Astor)等明星真的是自己挑选衣服。那个年代对他来说也许具有某种吸引力，不过即便在他七八十岁时，他依然有很多喜欢拍摄的对象。
One was Louise Doktor, an administrative assistant at a New York holding company who had a coat with four sleeves and a handbag made from a soccer ball. Another was Andre J., a bearded man with a taste for off-the-shoulder ‘70s-inspired dresses.
其中一位便是纽约某控股公司的行政助理路易斯·多克托尔(Louise Doktor)，她有一件带四个袖子的外套，以及一个用足球做成的手袋。还有留山羊胡的安德烈·J(Andre J.)，他偏爱70年代风格的露肩裙装。
“He had people who recurred in his columns,” Koda said. “Most of them were not famous. They were working people he was interested in. His thing was personal style.”
Cunningham put it this way in an essay he wrote for The Times in 2002: “Fashion is as vital and as interesting today as ever. I know what people with a more formal attitude mean when they say they’re horrified by what they see on the street. But fashion is doing its job. It’s mirroring exactly our times.”