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Guide to the Melanie Tinnelly collection of photographs of or by Bill Cunningham and Toni "Suzette" Cimino
Circa 1970-2015
 PR 329

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on July 07, 2017 using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

 
Creator: Tinnelly, Melanie
Title: Melanie Tinnelly collection of photographs of or by Bill Cunningham and Toni "Suzette" Cimino
Dates: Circa 1970-2015
Abstract: The Melanie Tinnelly collection primarily includes photographs taken by fashion journalist and photographer Bill Cunningham. The photographs principally center on a close friend of Cunningham’s, floral designer Toni Cimino, known as Suzette, sometimes with others. Street scenes, interiors, celebratory events, and social settings make up most of the backdrop of the photographs. Cimino and Cunningham were both residents of the studio apartments above Carnegie Hall and these form the backdrop of some of the photographs.The collection also includes work by other photographers, not all identified, principally of Bill Cunningham, Toni Cimino, and others.
Quantity: 0.21 Linear feet in one document box and two oversize folders
Call Phrase: PR 329

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Biographical/Historical Note

Toni “Suzette” Cimino was a floral designer whose clients included the restaurant Le Cirque, which appears in various photographs of this collection. Cimino lived in the studio apartments that existed, until 2010, above Carnegie Hall. Among the other artists living in these apartments was Bill Cunningham, a fashion photographer for the New York Times from 1978 until his death in 2016. Cunningham and Cimino were close friends and she was a frequent subject of his photographs, predominantly so in this collection. Cunningham’s involvement with the fashion world extended back at least to the 1950s and to his career as a fashion designer, particularly of women’s hats. By the early 1960s, his focus had shifted from designing to writing and to photography. Originally from Boston, he arrived to stay in New York City and the Carnegie Hall apartments in the early 1950s. Among the visitors to Cimino’s apartment was her young niece, Melanie Tinnelly, the future donor of this collection to N-YHS, who met Bill Cunningham there and remained close to him and her Aunt Toni for the rest of their lives.

Sources: New York Times obituary of Bill Cunningham on June 25, 2016; Wikipedia entry for Cunningham; Cunningham’s  Times article “Bill on Bill” of October 27, 2002; and a blog entry by Tinnelly reminiscing about Cimino and Cunningham on aleteia.org.

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Scope and Contents Note

The Melanie Tinnelly collection primarily includes photographs taken by fashion journalist and photographer Bill Cunningham. The photographs principally center on a close friend of Cunningham’s, Toni Cimino, known as Suzette. The photographs feature Suzette on the streets of New York City, by brownstones, in Christmas-themed holiday markets, in the snow, at a flower market, and the like. Cimino commonly appears alone in the photographs, but also with other people. A few of the photographs are captioned as having been taken in the apartments above Carnegie Hall where Cimino, Cunningham, the photographer Editta Sherman, and others lived. Most of the collection includes Cimino in the images and so her presence is not noted at the folder level notes below; to the extent other identified people are found in the folder, that is noted.

In addition to the photographs of Cimino, but also sometimes overlapping, are Cunningham’s photographs of interior spaces at Le Cirque restaurant and elsewhere, often with flowers or floral arrangements as prominent features. Most of the photographs are black and white, but there are many in color also.

Many of the photographs are dated and have identifying locations or identifications of the other people in the image. Several photographs are captioned or inscribed by Cunningham, at times as profound expressions of affection and friendship sent with the photograph to Cimino. There are a small number of greeting cards from Cunningham that hold similar expressions of fondness.

In addition to Cunningham’s photographs, there are several by other photographers, including Tinnelly. Tinnelly’s photographs, printed on oversize paper, are of Cunningham and/or Cimino from late in their lives. A set of three photographs of Cimino are by Antonio Lopez. One notable artwork in the collection is a collage that includes a photograph of Cimino taken by Cunningham with a border drawing by Ruben Toledo. Nonetheless, most of the photographs in the collection not taken by Cunningham are by unidentified photographers. These photographs include snapshots of Cunningham and others at various celebratory events and social settings, ranging from the 1970s to the 2000s.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged by photographer, with Bill Cunningham's first, followed by those of Melanie Tinnelly, and then others. Within Cunningham's photographs, the arrangement is by format of image (black/white, color, etc.) and chronological.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Cimino, Toni -- Photographs
  • Cunningham, William J. -- Photographs

Document Type

  • Fashion photographs
  • Photographs

Subject Topics

  • Photographers

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers by appointment only.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. See guidelines in Print Room for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reproduce any Print Room holdings through publication must be obtained from: Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 270. Fax: (212) 579-8794.

Preferred Citation Note

The collection should be cited as: Melanie Tinnelly collection of photographs of or by Bill Cunningham and Toni "Suzette" Cimino, PR 329, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Credit lines: Donated by Melanie Tinnelly in memory of Toni L. Cimino, known as Suzette. The collage consisting of a photograph by Bill Cunningham with a border drawing by Ruben Toledo must acknowledge the artwork was drawn by Mr. Toledo.

Related Archival Materials Note

New-York Historical Society holds a collection of photographs taken by Cunningham of his friend, neighbor and fellow photographer Editta Sherman posing in period costumes in front of NYC buildings matching the same era as her clothing. These photographs were published in the 1978 book Facades. See the Bill Cunningham  Facades Photograph Collection ( PR 307).

Immediate Source of Acquisition Note

Donated by Melanie Tinnelly in memory of Toni L. Cimino, known as Suzette.

Processing Information Note

The collection was processed in June 2017 by archivist Larry Weimer.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 B/W Photographs by Bill Cunningham (1 of 6 folders)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes Editta Sherman and others in the Carnegie Hall apartments.

1970-1973
Box: 1 Folder : 2 B/W Photographs by Bill Cunningham (2 of 6 folders)
1974-1978
Box: 1 Folder : 3 B/W Photographs by Bill Cunningham (3 of 6 folders)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes Antonio Lopez, Morty Siefter.

1980-1984
Box: 1 Folder : 4 B/W Photographs by Bill Cunningham (4 of 6 folders)
1986-1988
Box: 1 Folder : 5 B/W Photographs by Bill Cunningham (5 of 6 folders)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes Jeanne Beauvais, Valerie Unger, Joan Siefter, Juan Ramos, Paul Caranicas.

1989-1990, 1994
Box: 1 Folder : 6 B/W Photographs by Bill Cunningham (6 of 6 folders)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes Jack Edwards, Juan Ramos, Howard Bay, Sandra Payson.

undated
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Color Photographs by Bill Cunningham (1 of 3 folders)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes chefs(?) at Le Cirque restaurant, Jack Edwards, Joan Seifter.

1977, 1983-1998
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Color Photographs by Bill Cunningham (2 of 3 folders)
undated
Drawer: Flat File Folder : 1 Color Photographs by Bill Cunningham (3 of 3 folders)
2010
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Photograph Strip by Bill Cunningham

Scope and Contents Note

Includes Jacques Torres and Sottha Khunn (Chef for Le Cirque restaurant), with Suzette.

undated
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Color Photocopies of Photographs by Bill Cunningham
2004-2005, 2010?, 2012
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Greeting Cards from Bill Cunningham
1980, 2006, 2014, 2015, undated
Drawer: Flat File Folder : 2 Collage by Bill Cunningham and Ruben Toledo
undated
Drawer: Flat File Folder : 2 Photographs by Melanie Tinnelly

Scope and Contents Note

From original enclosure: works printed at Tribeca Printworks.

circa 2010?
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Photographs by Other, Identified Photographers

Scope and Contents Note

Includes photographs of Cunningham and Suzette by Mary Cariello and by Arnaldo Magnani, and three of Suzette by Antonio Lopez(?). (The set of three by Antonio were framed together when received by N-YHS, but were unframed for conservation purposes, thereby revealing the photographer's name signed on the reverse.)

2001, 2004?
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Photographs by Other, Unidentified Photographers
1970s-1980s, undated

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