5 Things You Should Know About Bill Cunningham, May He Rest

Beloved New Yorker and fashion photographer Bill Cunningham died of a stroke at the age of 87 this weekend, as you’ve probably noticed almost every celeb and fashion icon posting pictures on Instagram in memorial of him (I don’t know why I follow the likes of Alexa Chung, I am not that cool, but I do). But if you’re not a New Yorker or a fashion junkie, there are so many things you should know about Bill Cunningham that will make you miss him just as much as everyone else. Because he was talented and hardworking, but also, according to everyone, just the raddest guy ever. There’s a documentary, Bill Cunningham New York, about the photographer, who worked since 1978  The New York Times’ Style section where he had a regular column, streaming on Hulu Plus and Netflix and if you have nothing to watch after finishing Orange Is The New Black you need to watch it, whether or not you’re into “fashion.”

Because Cunningham wasn’t either, really. He basically invented street style, by roaming around Manhattan on his bike snapping famous socialites on their way to the runway shows during Fashion Week but also the schlubs with selfie sticks. He had an eye for what was interesting and was everywhere, all the time.

His Favorite Corner

Bill Cunningham street
CREDIT: Cindy Ord /Getty Images

If you knew what you were looking for, most days you could spot Cunningham by his favorite corner in Manhattan on 57th Street and 5th Ave., by the iconic Tiffany&Co. store. The spot was close to his apartment above Carnegie Hall and, according to the Times, his favorite breakfast spot, Stage Star Deli.

He Was Always Working

Bill Cunningham 2
CREDIT: Gareth Cattermole /Getty Images

It’s part of the Bill Cunningham legend that he is always working and snapping pictures. He even took pictures at the premiere party of the documentary made about him. And he hasn’t seen the movie yet. He said once, at a reception in his honor where he was still snapping pictures of people, “It’s not work, it’s pleasure. That’s why I feel so guilty. Everybody else does work — I have too much fun.”

He’s A Living Landmark

Bill Cunningham 3
CREDIT: Astrid Stawiarz /Getty Images

The New York Landmark’s Conservancy named Cunningham a living landmark in 2009. He’s also been awarded the Legion d’Honneur from the French government. Yeah, he was that important.

He Gave Good Advice

In all of the obituaries you might read of Cunningham, you’ll notice that there’s always a little wisdom sprinkled in. Or saying, “all the people who tell the truth are in the last rows,” when a colleague would complain about his seating choices.

He Was Democratic

He took pictures of everyone, even the people who weren’t dressed all that fancy but had a certain strut to them or something. He knew it when he saw it. In 2008, he told Womens Wear Daily, “I’m not interested in celebrities and their free dresses.” Dayum, Bill.

The man’s a New York City and fashion legend and even I, a nobody, will definitely miss spotting him, Where’s Waldo-style, around town.