Ever since I heard about a Bill Cunningham documentary I have been following the official Twitter feed for news of its release............ and I'm so happy that it has finally landed in London! Its a rare occurrence that fashion hits the big screen in this town and always a highlight in my calender e.g Bruce Webber at The Screen On The Green, Diana Vreeland at The Mayfair Hotel. This release is currently on show at The Curzon on Cuzon Street - a lovely big space perfect for the indulgence of enjoying this picture. Its a real pleasure to get to know a little about this iconic character who paved the way for the Scott Schuman and Tommy Ton's of the industry. He has spent his life fascinated with fashion from the hats he saw at church on a Sunday as a child thru to being a milliner before he even picked up a camera. When Anna Wintour talks about him in the film it runs a slideshow of the snaps he took of her as a fledgling fashionista (see above) and she explains that everyone dresses for Bill. She also divulges that if he is on the front row of a catwalk show he only lifts his camera for something exceptional and often a detail the main editors may have missed................. and this will be the trend that surfaces later down the line.
There are many brilliant interviews with his extended network of New York work family who each give their own insight into his private and peculiar world. By the end of the story you just want to lunge into the screen and give him a big hug. He has managed to be intrinsic and crucial to the industry without becoming effected or tainted but retained his pure and excitable passion for clothes. Reassuringly he identifies that the one off oddballs of the scene excite him more than the celebrity infatuation and he celebrates these ladies in preference - shooting Anna Piaggi is a particular favourite.
The best quote in the whole thing for me is his explanation for rejecting payment from Conde Nast or any other employers............. he vouches that the cheapest thing is desiring money and the most expensive, priceless thing is freedom. Therefore he has been able to do exactly what he wants because noone has owned the rights to his work or service. He lives on the bare minimum of necessities in place of spending his life working round the clock and still cycling around Manhattan at the age of 84! He wants for nothing and exists on the energy of thriving off his job which is incidentally his life......... the ultimate sacrifice and dedication to your art. Its such an inspiring story, I recommend everyone to go and see it!