DAY 13
of the 30-Day Blog Challenge, 2011
On the day I choose a t-shirt and jeans combo, I meet—and speak with!—the iconic fashion photographer.

When I saw the movie, Bill Cunningham New York back in April, I was so mesmerized by the iconic photographer’s life—how simply he lived it—and his decades-long career with The New York Times. I would say that Bill Cunningham brought street photography to the mainstream, if not, invented street-style photo features as we see them today.

Now, much as I would like to be photographed by the man on his bicycle and trademark blue shirt, I know that what I wear on a daily basis isn’t fashion-feature or society-page material. I leave that to my more stylish friends like Kat or Happy who have a sort of bohemian-meets-city-chic take on fashion that tends to be photogenic—especially with the accessories they pair with their outfits. Christine of Manila Fashion Observer also comes to mind, for her high-end style. I, on the other hand, am a little bit old-lady-French, or sporty-sleek. Not entirely un-fashionable, but you get my drift.
Every now and then, I think about Cunningham. Just in the last two weeks alone, I can tell you of two moments that I have wondered about the very fascinating photographer. First, I was walking along Lexington Avenue and 57th St., and I thought to myself, “Will I ever see Bill Cunningham in person on his bike, as I walk down the street? Maybe not.” The second time, I may have walked past the New York Times building or some other building and wondered, “Who’ll take care of Bill Cunningham when he’s older? A trusted assistant? The NY Times management?”
So, you could imagine my surprise when earlier this morning, as I was taking pictures by the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building steps on Fifth Avenue, a man behind me started talking and pointed out how nice the library was to shoot today as it was “clean” (or did he say “clear”?). When I turned around, it was Bill Cunningham! On his bike! In his blue shirt! I was so star-struck and to be honest, I can hardly remember exactly what he said about the library. Here are bits and pieces of our conversation (conversation!):

Me: “I’m so happy to see you! I watched your movie.”
Bill: “[Smiling. I can’t remember what he said, maybe something about it being a very nice day, how it’s nice to shoot the library on this nice day.]
Me: “You work Sundays?”
Bill: “Oh, yeah. I’m on my way to the photo lab.”
Me: “Okay. I’m so happy to have met you. Bye, Bill. Take care!”
Bill: [Smiles and pedals away.]

Sigh. It took a few moments to collect my thoughts and start walking to the next block. I couldn’t believe it!

The ironic thing is, today, of all days, was a day I chose to dress down. I was going to be out and about with family, so I wore a very comfy electric yellow fitted tee, cuffed jeans, and my stripey pink-violet Keds slip-ons. I was also carrying a New Balance drawstring backpack and a black reusable shopping bag next to my handbag (the latter is pretty though). Oh well 🙂

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the movie trailer that I posted back in April. You may also read the blog entry here.

Bill Cunningham “On the Street” image courtesy of The New York Times.