Dear Bill



I grew up watching not sitcoms nor soaps nor telenovelas but documentaries, from usually National Geographic or BBC. God was I the geekiest kid ever. A documentary on my favourite subject ever is basically a foolproof combination for me. I have enjoyed past fashion documentaries such as Lagerfeld Confidential (2007), Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008), and The September Issue (2009) so I was really looking forward to Bill Cunningham New York (2011) which features BILL CUNNINGHAM, the cutest old man ever one of the most iconic street photographers in New York who has a superb street fashion column in the NYTimes (but who doesn't know this already?). Anyway, I went with great expectations and was not disappointed at all to say the least. It's one thing to have a low expectation of a film and be surprised with its quality but what's even better is to have a film that surprises even your highest expectations. It was so well done not just as a film but as a fashion documentary. The film was not all superficial focusing only on the glamour of the New York fashion industry but also had heart in portraying the daily life of Bill, the other hilarious and eccentric residents of the studios at Carnegie Hall, as well as focusing on the trials and tribulations that the street photographer had to go through to get to the level of success he enjoys now.



Images via Google
It is obvious through the film, that the only reason Bill has the phenomenal success he has right now is due to his work ethic and incredible attitude and passion. This is clearly a man defined thoroughly by the work he does - his small studio of home is filled top to bottom with filing cabinets of negatives and his bed is a mattress lain atop of even more filing cabinets. He saves little time for relationships but instead spends an incredible amount going around New York on his bicycle with a camera in hand for the best street style in Manhattan. His millinery business failed when he was young, some reject his offer to let him take their photograph, and he has to fight to maintain the same integrity and quality of his photographs throughout the years, and in spite of all the hardships, his beatific smile and infectiously warm personality never falters. Of what I am most impressed by him is not his eye for fashion, but rather his unbeatable sunny outlook on life. It is rare to see someone so driven by passion where his work is no longer "work". To someone who feels overwhelmed with the amount of choices today, it's heartwarming and inspiring for me to see someone who could stay so narrowly focused in one field for such a very long time. The film is surely worth the watch (though it's sad that it's in limited release) not only because of the beautiful clothes and interesting life that Bill has led so far, yet also because he is a grounded, inspiring character in a field where so many focus only on the pretty. Now I just want to watch L'Amour Fou on YSL already!
"MONEY IS CHEAP BUT FREEDOM IS EXPENSIVE" – BILL CUNNINGHAM

10 comments:

Austere said...

I've been meaning to watch this documentary and your post has sealed the deal! Great writing.

Ives He said...

Hey Joy! You should totally get the Prada brogues. You can order them on Prada.com for $800. But they're in sale for half the price in stores, you got my stamp of approval! 5-6 years is pretty good for your docs, you definitely put them to good use. Time for a new pair! I'm loving your blog, really great posts!

Kay said...

I've always loved Cunningham's work, and now I'm dying to see this doc!

And there's nothing wrong with geeking out as a kid, I couldn't get enough Nova growing up... :)

x, {with fingers crossed}

Jazzy E (hivenn) said...

Amazing. x hivenn

Boom Now said...

I have always been a fan of Bill Cunningham also, I need to watch this documentary. By the way I live the last quote.

http://boom-now.blogspot.com/

P R I M O E Z A said...

i'd love to see this. i missed it at the film festival, now wondering how to get my hands on it...

Lindsay K said...

Such a lovely film. It exceeded all expectations I had. Street style begins and ends with Bill Cunningham for me.

t h e l i n e s h e e t said...

I really want to see this! This is such a great quote...Freedom is expensive!

You have to see L'Amour Fou! It's such a sad, beautiful and inspiring movie!

Raulston said...

I listen to this Gent every weekend via NYT and love his liveliness.

Style Dilettante said...

That was the perfect review! I so enjoyed this documentary... and I enjoy his reports of "on the street" at nytimes.com more than ever!

http://inherentstylela.blogspot.com/