Bill Cunningham, the blue-jacketed originator of street-style photography who pioneered the notion that fashion lived on the street, passed away at the age of 87 on June 25th. Cunningham had been hospitalized following a recent stroke.His eye was triumphantly democratic: a single column could include Nan Kempner in custom Yves Saint Laurent beside the Club Kid fixtures whose homespun couture made New York’s avant-garde underground churn. He worked as a kind of fashion anthropologist, who was as passionate about chronicling trends as he was about recognizing spectacular individuality.#racheltashjian

It seems everyone has a favorite “Bill Cunningham” story. An appearance in his column brings cocktail chatter that can last for months, even years and decades for some (you know who you are).



My favorite BC tale is during a New York City Easter Parade.  My buddy Travis and I dressed for Bill. Then searched for him during our stop and pose stroll up and down Fifth Avenue.  We were near the end of our Rockefeller Roundabout.

Exhausted but still posing – sometimes a camera lens can perk-you-up like an espresso. So we were perking and twerking – posing and primping – peacockin’ and hard rockin’ – you get the idea.  And there he was, Bill Cunningham mixed in with the iphones, big lenses and tourist Kodak moments.

Not to be outdone by Travis, I sported my best profile pose – hand on hip – nose in air – swagger tilt.  Out of the corner of my eye I spied BC getting pushed and shoved by the frenzy of tourists who apparently had no idea he was precious cargo.

The New York Times
The New York Times

I announced to Travis, ‘I can’t pose while they’re beating up Bill Cunnigham’ – so I went to BC’s rescue.  It’s difficult to walk, smile, hold in your stomach and parade wave all at the same time, but I managed to make it over to the scuffle and told the frenzied crowd that ‘we are posing for Bill – stop pushing him.’ And, Bill said “I’m fine young fella, can you step back so I can get a few more pictures?”

Have you ever seen Naomi Campbell walk backwards on the catwalk?  Me either . . .  but somehow I managed to float backwards to my position next to Travis and we vogued.

The term “ American Fashion Photographer” does not do justice to the work that Bill Cunningham did for more than four decades. His photographs of New York City street style for the New York Times are legendary.

Street style

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 7.18.52 PM
Fashion Insiders and luminaries ranging from iconic model Iman to interior designer and fashion goddess Iris Apfel relied upon his lens. “We all dress for Bill,” said Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
Daniel Richards being photographed by Bill Cunningham at Kips Bay 2016

I recently attended a book signing and presentation of FASHION LIVES by Fern Mallis. She offered a fun tidbit about how she guilt-tripped the notoriously shy photographer into agreeing to the interview after he spilled a vodka-soda on her dress.

Fern Mallis speaking about her book ‘Fashion Lives’ @Dmitriy&Co

During the  2014 interview with Cunningham, he highlights some important observations. Particularly about the generation of millennials and their simple clothes and uniform fashions.

Asked by Mallis to clarify what he meant, he continued: “The whole country is electronically connected. They’re educating the insides of their heads, as they should do! Not the outside, with a fancy hat or a dress. Simple clothes… That’s the key. I think that’s what the fashion world should really think about.”
Fern Mallis + Bill Cunningham @92Y 2014

Bill Cunningham

For decades, Bill Cunningham rode his bike a short distance from his apartment to the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue. There, he captured his subjects wearing colorful ensembles, sporting hats or swathed in capes.
Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 8.35.24 PM
New York City has honored Mr. Cunningham by renaming the northeast corner (57th & 5th) by the Louis Vuitton store . . .
Bill Cunningham Corner.”13592443_1192931947407721_3279197152324594153_n
The ceremony took place around 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday. There to commemorate the renaming were Chirlane McCray, NYC’s First Lady; Alicia Glen, a deputy mayor of New York; Harold Koda, the former curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute; and Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times.
crowd bill cunningham riohamilton.com
Ceremony for Bill Cunningham Corner
chirlaine mccray bill cunningham riohamilton.com
New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray

The honor is merely temporary. Permanent street renaming has become rare. The mayor’s office said it was considering ideas about other, more lasting ways to honor Mr. Cunningham. Did someone say statue?

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 8.37.33 PM20STREET_COMBO-superJumbo
New York Times


Bill Cunningham turned our sidewalks into runways and New Yorkers into models,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “His vivid photos captured our city’s diversity in every sense of the word, and helped define New York as the fashion capital of the world.”

He was sought after by the fashion world’s rich and powerful, yet he remained one of the kindest, most gentle and humble people I have ever met.  During a long elevator ride in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel he saw my camera in hand and he offered invaluable advice – he was just that type of gentleman.

We have lost Fashion’s best friend !!

cunningham riohamilton.com
Bill Cunningham + George Oliphant + Jamie Drake + Ford Huniford + Douglas Friedman
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 8.16.29 PM
Heidi Klum and Karlie Kloss at The Daily Front Row’s Fashion Media Awards – Getty
bill bunny riohamilton.com
Bunny Williams + Bill Cunningham
Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 10.19.10 AM
Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 8.33.00 PM
March 13, 1929 – June 25, 2016
#billcunningham #newyorktimes  #racheltashjian #fernmallis #racked #rogerstern #cbs #vogue #annacolon #refinery #laurencook #sararadi #bonniewerthen #vfstyle #formatmagazine #nytimesstyle #danshaw #garethcattermole #gettyimages #ArthurOchsSulzbergerJr #thetelegraph #emmaspedding

Rio Hamilton

Rio Hamilton is a business development professional with vast marketing and sales experience.He specializes in brand promotion for the luxury interior design and lifestyle industries. Rio works with companies, individuals and groups on concentrated brand identity and elevation. He has a popular website that chronicles "the who's who" at design and fashion events throughout greater New York.


Billie Eilish does Billie Eilish.

Billie Eilish does Billie Eilish.

She was perfectly willing to



Lancôme has announced the launch



The fashion world is no


Leave a Reply