How Rihanna + Other Creatives Are Mourning Fashion Icon Bill Cunningham
On Saturday, the world lost an icon and New York City lost one of its most legendary fixtures to ever roam the streets. Step outside of—or inside!—any runway show in New York, and you’d often find Bill Cunningham in his signature blue French workman’s jacket, khaki pants, and black sneakers, snapping away on his 35-millimeter camera, usually perched on his bicycle, ready at any moment for a swift exit. At 87 years old, Cunningham died after suffering from a stroke earlier in the week, but he will never be forgotten. Thanks to his decades-long obsession with the fashionable New Yorkers he captured over the last 40 years in his New York Times columns “On the Street” and “Evening Hours,” Cunningham and his work will be consecrated in history.
Equally as phenomenal as the legacy Cunningham has left behind in the photography world was his personal life. Despite being named one of the city’s living landmarks—despite being the subject of a widely lauded documentary, Bill Cunningham New York, that screened at the Museum of Modern Art, the Boston bred, Irish-Catholic photographer lived a remarkably simple, unassuming life; Cunningham was known for tearing up paychecks, saying, “Money’s the cheapest thing. Liberty and freedom is the most expensive.” He possessed such a discerning eye that he was able to spot trends long before they came to fruition, snapping photos that, together, gave the world a visual lesson of New York’s sartorial history—fanny packs and all. And his photos helped bring awareness to the LGBTQ community long before this became acceptable (let alone encouraged).
Along the way, he touched hearts of so many—both inside and outside of the fashion community. As the world mourns his loss, we collected some of the most heartfelt tributes from our favorite creatives around the world.
Rihanna’s Most Important Rule about Bill Cunningham
The singer took to Instagram to pay homage to Cunningham with a touching photo of them together as she holds his camera. She posted it alongside a caption about the most important rule to remember if ever you found yourself in front of his lens: Pose bitch.
Naomi Campbell Mourns Cunningham With A Story
It makes sense that the most iconic fashion photographer in the world knew one of the most iconic models in the world. Campbell shared a heartfelt tribute about the man she’s known since 1986, who apparently called her a kid no matter what age she was.
Dear Bill Cunningham got to know you since #1986 , you always had the biggest smile that would light up a city, always called me kid when I was way beyond one . And So elegant you always was . So sad to lose you such a great man with a beautiful soul . Going to the Metball and any other big fashion red carpets will not be the same without you . I love you always , condolences to your family #RIP ❤️❤️🙏🏾
Iris Apfel Remembers Cunningham With Heartfelt Photos
Iris is the stylish oldie we all aspire to be, but we wouldn’t know anything about her if it weren’t for Cunningham. “Bill photographed me before anyone knew who I was,” Ms. Apfel told The New York Times. “At 94, I’ve become a cover girl, and he was very largely responsible for my ultimate success.”
Vogue Shares a Touching Anna Wintour Quote About Cunningham
If there was ever a single phrase to describe how Cunningham’s influence has impacted the fashion world, it came from the most iconic name in the industry. “We all dress for Bill,” Anna Wintour once said.
Molly Ringwald Remembers Cunningham’s Fondness For Her Gloves
Yes it’s true, the famed actress has the face of an angel, but it was something else about Ringwald that captured the attention of Cunningham at Cindy Sherman’s MoMA opening.
At Cindy Sherman's MOMA opening, Bill Cunningham swooped in snapped my gloves saying "Oh aren't these marvelous!" Never felt so well dressed
— Molly Ringwald (@MollyRingwald) June 25, 2016
Nina Garcia Reflects on How Cunningham Made Her Love Fashion
The fashion journalist remembered Cunningham with a heartwarming portrait and reflected on how his photos made her, and the rest of the fashion industry, fall in love with fashion.
— Nina Garcia (@ninagarcia) June 25, 2016
Fashion DJ Michel Gaubert Shares a Touching Photo
The iconic DJ and funny man shared a couple iconic photos of Cunningham—one of which includes the equally iconic former editor-at-large of Vogue, André Leon Talley.
Stay tuned to Milk for more Bill Cunningham.
Image via GQ.