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Fashion Muse | Bill Cunningham

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Fashion Muse | Bill Cunningham

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My mom and I are longtime admirers of Bill Cunningham, his French work jacket, and his genius street photography. My mother introduced me to Bill's work years ago, and we've been avidly following his photos and career ever since, and even after his passing in 2016. Recently, it came to my attention that none of the EG gals had even heard the name Bill Cunningham, and I was floored.

bill cunningham fashion show at work

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Bill's uniform during his long career was always the same: khakis, loafers, button downs, and a vintage French work jacket. Its brilliance was in its simplicity, and his commitment to consistency. However, Bill's real genius was in his keen eye for spotting cutting edge fashion on everyday New York streets. Bill's work days consisted of riding around New York City on his bicycle and capturing candid shots of stylish people for The New York Times.

bill cunningham staircase

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Bill's big break came in 1978, after years of casual photography, when he took an unassuming photo of actress-turned-recluse Greta Garbo on the street. Rather than focusing on the woman herself, Bill was zeroed in on her coat. He famously said upon seeing her, he thought "Look at the cut of that shoulder. It's so beautiful. All I had noticed was the coat and the shoulder." This photo caught the attention of the Times, and an icon was born.

bill cunningham greta garbo 1978

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 For this installment in our Fashion Muse series, we decided to put a spin on our usual format. Bill Cunningham was a style icon not only in his own dress, but almost more so with his keen eye and taste. To capture the attention of Bill on the street was the ultimate goal of New Yorkers for decades, and his legacy has completely redefined the art of street photography. As my mother and I always say when we visit New York, "we're dressing for Bill."

 bill cunningham taking a photo

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 We've compiled some of our favorite photos of Bill, his subjects, and the streets of New York. We've also included links to some of our favorite pieces to channel Bill's signature uniform, and a couple surprises to learn more about Bill and his work. 

We love you, and we miss you, Bill. 

bill cunningham streets of paris

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bill cunningham blue sweater

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 bill cunningham midtown manhattan

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bill cunningham jackie kennedy

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 bill cunningham model nyfw

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bill cunningham fashion show

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 bill cunningham smiling

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bill cunningham puddles nyc

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bill cunningham iris apfel

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 bill cunningham bulldogs

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 bill cunningham photographing a model

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bill cunningham woman chasing taxi

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bill cunningham street photography

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bill cunningham on his bike in nyc

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 Channel Bill Cunningham's Signature Uniform

Banana Republic Organic Chore Coat (Bonus points for the oversized men's silhouette)

Jungmaven Coach Jacket

Everlane Oversized Alpaca Crew in Cobalt

Everlane Silky Cotton Relaxed Button-Down

Reformation Mason Trouser

Doc Marten Mono Smooth Leather Oxford Shoes


Immerse Yourself in Bill's Genius

Bill Cunningham: On the Street: Five Decades of Iconic Photography

Bill Cunningham Was There: Spring Flings + Summer Soirées

Fashion Climbing: A Memoir by Bill Cunningham

Bill Cunningham New York film trailer

 Loved this post? Check out the rest of our Fashion Muse series >