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© 2011 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Bill Cunningham "Facades" Photograph Collection
circa 1970's
 PR 307

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

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Susan Kriete

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on March 17, 2016
Description is in English

Biographical/Historical Note

William J. "Bill" Cunningham (born March 13, 1929) is an American fashion photographer for the New York Times, known for his candid and street photography. A Harvard dropout and Army veteran, he was a milliner and fashion photographer before he began photographing passers-by on the streets in 1978. He was a pioneer in focusing on fashion as the public wears it, not as presented by models, editors, stylists and fashion photographers. His photographs are featured in two long-running and hugely popular weekly columns in the Times: "On the Street," in which he identifies fashion trends as he spots them emerging on the street; and "Evening Hours," his ongoing coverage of the city's charity galas and society parties.

In 1968, 20 years after his arrival in New York City, and before he made his name chronicling fashion and society in pictures for the New York Times, Bill Cunningham began another fashion project, a body of work that became a 1978 book, "Facades." The book was a collaboration with his friend, fellow photographer and neighbor at Carnegie Hall Studios, Editta Sherman (aka "The Duchess of Carnegie Hall"), who was, like Cunningham, a devoted collector of vintage clothing. On weekends, Cunningham photographed her on the streets of New York wearing ensembles put together from their collections. Each image matches clothing with architecture that exemplifies the period, ranging from the late 18th century to the 1950s. This collection consists of the 91 gelatin silver prints from the series, which Cunningham donated to the New-York Historical Society when the book was completed.