There’s a category in my WordPress called “On the Street.” It’s the default category setting, and it’s impossible to delete from the category options. To be honest, I think the dude who helped me set up PMG in the first place set it as the default but nonetheless – there it is. Where did this term, “on the street” come from? Perhaps from dope hip hoppers in parachute pants? From paparazzi-esque street style bloggers? Nay, I think for the answer we can look to Bill Cunningham.
The new documentary Bill Cunningham New York promises to be “a delicate, funny and often poignant portrait of a dedicated artist whose only wealth is his own humanity and unassuming grace”. Bill Cunningham was taking street style photos when The Sartorialist was probably just learning how to roll a joint over at Barnard, and the internet was still just a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye.
Mr. Cunningham is a true artist, sleeping on a cot in his office, riding his little bike (before it became cool to ride your bike a quarter mile through the West Village in heels and a flowing scarf), pouring over thousands of photos, and eschewing the glamourous trappings of fashion to focus on its core artistry. I’m not a photographer, and I would dare say his photography isn’t particularly exceptional. Instead, it’s the fact that he is so single-mindedly determined to find interesting, beautiful looks that really sets him apart. In a cyber world of sycophantic bloggers** touting the latest “heritage brands” and preening celeb-utantes of questionable genetic value, Mr. Cunningham is honestly looking for beauty.
Check the trailer.
**yours truly definitely included.