Few have left their mark on the fashion industry like Bill Cunningham, and now the industry is mourning his death on Saturday, June 25.
According to Glamour, the iconic New York Times fashion photographer died at age 87 after being hospitalized recently for a stroke. But with his loss come reflections on his career and his indisputable influence in the world of fashion.
Photographing street styles in all corners of Manhattan over a 40-year career, Glamour says Cunningham was known to photograph “the city’s characters who pushed boundaries with how they dressed,” all while “wearing his signature blue jacket and often riding a bicycle.”
Although Glamour says of the legend that he was not one to assume the spotlight, he also earned several awards for his work, including the French Legion d’Honneur — the highest French honor for “military and civil merits,” according to Wikipedia — and the CFDA Media Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. In addition, Glamour reports that he was named a Living Landmark in 2009 by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.
While his impact on fashion will not soon be forgotten, perhaps we should also remember the way Cunningham saw fashion — not merely as just articles of clothing, but as a means of surviving.
“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life,” he said, according to Glamour. “I don’t think you could do away with it. It would be like doing away with civilization.”