He was wearing his signature blue jacket with his Nikon camera around his neck when I saw him. The moment I spotted him in the crowd, I could barely contain my excitement.
This past October, I decided to wait outside of the Chanel presentation and people watch as the crowd filed in for the Spring 2014 show. Never before had I seen so much Chanel in one place, as I did on the people waiting outside of the Grand Palais. Everyone was crowding around the entrance, pushing themselves forward in an attempt to get closer to those walking into the show.
As I stood there and observed, Bill Cunningham suddenly emerged. He was adorable and just as I imagined him to be after many years of following his Street Style images in the Times. First he stood, fumbling in his jacket for his “golden” ticket into the show, before quickly becoming distracted by an attendee’s ensemble, specifically her shoes. Within that moment, he sprung into action, snapping 10-15 pictures on his camera, swiftly (for the age of 84) moving around the woman, to capture her feet from various angles. About 5 pictures in, the woman noticed his presence and started posing a bit. Within seconds, it was over and the woman moved on and Bill resumed his position in line.
I took this opportunity to snap a photograph of him, as I felt that I needed something tangible to remember this moment by. I was ecstatic that I had just witnessed the King of street fashion photography in action. Not only did I finally get to see Bill Cunningham in person, but I also got to witness him at work, doing what he is famous for. The irony of it all being that as he waited to enter the fashion show of the season, he documented what he believes to be the “real “fashion show on the streets.
As quoted in his documentary, “The fashion show is definitely on the streets.” But before he could review the images that he had just captured, someone recognized him in the crowd and scooped him right up, guiding him forward to the entrance. A path was cleared as he made his way, and all hailed to the King of the streets.
Written by Alessandra Trifero