Bill Cunningham on good and bad taste and the influence of globalisation and gay marriage at Paris Fashion Week…
New York Times
Well who’d have thunk it? Six years ago today, I started a fashion blog. This very one, in fact, albeit on a Blogspot platform with a slightly clunky white-text-on-black-background layout. If you scroll back far enough, you can see my early posts; embarrassing though they are, I’ve not deleted them as it’s good to remember the journey.
My six year anniversary coincides with a pithy New York Times T Magazine story by Suzy Menkes lamenting the blog mob and the changes in fashion media and critiquing. Do read it, it’s certainly thought provoking. Alas, Menkes does come across as slightly jaded in her disapproval. Flagging up the common practice of ‘bloggers’ (read: the Fashion Week style blogger elite) who get photographed in next season’s looks, often gifted by designers in exchange for coverage, she reminds us that real reporters don’t play the gifting game (or ‘bribery’ as she puts it). It’s a funny one I admit. On the one hand, why not help give young designers exposure by wearing their clothes, if it will give them a leg-up and boost your visual presence as well? On the other hand, when the pre- and post-show peacocking starts to get more attention than the shows themselves, then that clearly signals a change in how things are working. Is it dumbing down though? or is it just an evolution in how fashion is seen and consumed now?
Six years ago, no-one even considered any of this stuff. As a phenomenon, it simply didn’t exist yet. Instagram didn’t exist, Vine didn’t exist, Twitter was in its infancy and Anna Dello Russo was just another jobbing fashion editor. How would fashion have weathered the recessions were it not for fashion blogs, Fashion Week street style and the powerful role they played in opening up the fashion industry to the masses? More pertinent still; where will fashion, blogging and the street style strutters be in another six years time? I guess that’s for us to witness, while documenting the process…
Thanks for the last six years of support!
Image: Stefania Yarhi/Textstyles – NYT
“It’s not about fabulous anymore. It’s about having 500 friends on Facebook and the same American Apparel outfit to wear to a festival. It was kind of the opposite then. Freak was the preferred genre.”
Anna Sui in Guy Trebay’s excellent New York Times piece on Antonio Lopez
Other things I learnt:
Rizzoli is publishing the monograph, Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco by Mauricio and Roger Padilha next week
The next major MAC make-up campaign will be inspired by Lopez’ illustrations and coterie of fabulous friends
Bill Cunningham and Antonio Lopez were BFFs and studio neighbours
Pat Cleveland is working on her memoir
I was invited to the UK premier of the Bill Cunningham New York film last week and I’m happy to report it was as good as Vidal Sassoon The Movie and The September Issue. Right from the opening frames I was hooked. This documentary captures the essence of New York, New Yorkers and the enigmatic spirit of Cunningham. For decades he has been on the streets, snapping passers-by for the New York Times, then getting his 35mm films developed at a local store. His apartment in Carnegie Hall is crammed with filing cabinets and the most basic of beds, his ‘wardrobe’ is a few wire hangers and his bathroom is a communal one down the hall. At 82 he still scoots around town on a push bike with a bumbag round his waist and his camera bag over the shoulder.
For Bill it really is all about getting the shots and all about the clothes. The film also shows him recording his commentaries for the digital version of On The Street (this week he observes how New York men are sharpening up) where he nails the week’s observations in one take. The narrative running through the film hinges on his enforced relocation from his belove Carnegie Hall apartment to a newer building, which gives the film a bittersweet storyline. But overall it’s an honest and uplifting portrait of a man and a city with glimpses of the industry and some of its colourful characters.
Bill Cunningham New York will be released in select UK cinemas on March 16.
As a side note, I was rather taken with Mr Cunningham’s daily ‘uniform’ of chinos and blue-on-blue layers – Yves Klein workman’s jacket, sky blue oxford shirt and cornflower sweater-over-the-shoulders. Plus rain poncho and Sorel boots for inclement weather (which is when he gets his best photos). I’m quite partial to a rain poncho and a sweater over the shoulders myself, not to mention a bumbag or two. Ines De La Fressange paid her own homage to Bill at the couture shows a couple of weeks ago, where she donned a Cunningham-esque blue shirt and cap to photograph show-goers for Madame Figaro. Wonder if it’ll catch on?
[Images:Max Cook/Patrick Demarchelier/The Sartorialist/WWD]