Bill Cunningham is famous for tooling around New York city, camera slung over his shoulder, snapping street fashion shots for his famous On The Street of the New York Time’s Style section.
In the years before he became famous for his street style images, Cunningham spent eight years, from 1968 to 1976, working on a whimsical, passionately important photo essay of models in period costumes posing against historic sites of the same era.
He searched secondhand shops for antique clothing, finding gems some merchants had no idea were in their possession, and looked for architectural sites across the city to create the perfect tableaux, many of which featured his muse and fellow photographer, Editta Sherman.
“I’m crazy about fashion and I’m mad about architecture,” he said. “It was all here in New York City.” And, his fashion knowledge was made abundantly clear from the notations he noted on the back of the prints. In one depiction of the Civil War era, he recognized that the period’s brightly colored fabrics were made possible by “the industrial revolution in textile dye from natural to chemical.”
Cunningham donated nearly all the 88 gelatin silver prints (which were made into the 1978 book, Facade) to the New-York Historical Society that are featured in the exhibition – Bill Cunningham: Facades
Through June 15, 2014 @ the New York Historical Society 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024 212.873.3400