Bill Cunningham, the fashion photographer known for inventing street style, died on Saturday. He was 87.
His weekly column for the New York Times featured particularly stylish everyday New Yorkers captured on the city streets. But he was also a fixture in the fashion industry, working the front row, capturing models on the runway from his unique lens, and especially outside the shows where the outfits are usually as enthralling as those indoors.
The passing of Cunningham, who could be seen in his signature blue sweater riding on his bike with a small camera bag strapped to his waist, has prompted many to share their condolences. The Times’ publisher and chairman Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. said in a statement, “His company was sought after by the fashion world’s rich and powerful, yet he remained one of the kindest, most gentle and humble people I have ever met. We have lost a legend, and I am personally heartbroken to have lost a friend.”
Other friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and admirers — including Lena Dunham, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Iman, and more — have taken to social media to commiserate as well.
Saw Bill out and about doing his thing for the first time when I was 7- I didn’t know who he was but I knew he made everyone important stop and adjust. It was the exact same vibe when I saw him a month ago, fancy people suddenly unsure in the presence of this special eccentric. He was powerful but he was gentle and kind. He had vision and he will be missed. Drawing by @joanaavillez ????
A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on Jun 25, 2016 at 2:55pm PDT
Heartbroken. Rest in peace to a true legend, Bill Cunningham. pic.twitter.com/aVgP1Xp1jU
— CFDA (@CFDA) June 25, 2016
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 25, 2016
Some legends walk by you and you hardly notice them because that’s exactly what they want. Bill Cunningham was like this, and all his life he was able to keep that fire and the perfect distance from his subject, distance that allowed him to do the work that he did. He was always going, going, going, rain, snow, heat, always smiling. He is a role model for many photographers, and definitely for me, though I always knew I could never touch that level of dedication – and of selflessness. So at the shows, I used to let him go go go and just tried to not get in his way, that was the best way to show him all the good things I thought about him… Because as you can imagine, he didn’t care for a selfie. Goodbye Bill, you will be missed. Photo by @thesartorialist who loved taking photos of Bill… #BillCunningham
A photo posted by Garance Doré (@garancedore) on Jun 25, 2016 at 2:59pm PDT
Mourning the loss of beloved New York photographer Bill Cunningham. Thank you for sharing your gift with us.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 25, 2016
Bill Cunningham in @centralparknyc in 1967 with his first camera, a half-frame that cost $35. A #streetstyle photographer whose photo essays memorialized trends ranging from fanny packs to Birkin bags, #BillCunningham died in New York today at 87. In nearly 40 years working for @nytimes, he operated both as a chronicler of fashion and as an unlikely cultural anthropologist. He wanted to find subjects, not be the subject. He wanted to observe, rather than be observed. “When I’m photographing,” he once said, “I look for personal style with which something is worn. … At parties, it’s important to be invisible, to catch people when they’re oblivious to the camera – to get the intensity of their speech, the gestures of their hands. I’m interested in capturing a moment with animation and spirit.”
A photo posted by The New York Times (@nytimes) on Jun 25, 2016 at 3:42pm PDT
— Iman Abdulmajid (@The_Real_IMAN) June 25, 2016
A photo posted by Diane Kruger (@dianekruger) on Jun 25, 2016 at 3:38pm PDT
Today we lost a Living Landmark, not that he ever stood still. Let’s all be more fabulous in Bill’s memory. https://t.co/GsnccOg1rv
— NYC Mayor’s Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) June 25, 2016
— Marc Jacobs (@marcjacobs) June 25, 2016
#ripbillcunningham so very sad! can’t believe the Great #billcunningham passed away. When I was a baby photographer in 1988 in London he always offered me a spot next to him alongside the catwalk , both of us with no flash, no extra cameras and only taking pictures of the clothes we liked, sometimes sharing his little fisherman fold out stool. Here a shot from his brilliant large series of pictures called Facades in collaboration and featuring his friend Editta Sherman where he matched the vintage outfits to the exact period of the facade behind , or around her. Kisses iv
A photo posted by Inezandvinoodh (@inezandvinoodh) on Jun 25, 2016 at 3:10pm PDT
I am stunned and saddened. Saw Bill in the office almost every day. His zest for his work was irrepressible.
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) June 25, 2016
RIP my dear #billcunningham. You made us love fashion. You left a huge mark in all of us. I will always remember you like this: taking a photo and smiling. I will miss you. So sad I won’t be seeing you outside the show photographing the best street style. Always helping fashion move forward with your pictures and commentary.
A photo posted by Nina Garcia (@ninagarcia) on Jun 25, 2016 at 2:57pm PDT
I remember being almost starstruck the first time Bill stepped in front of me with his camera on the street. I was honored. He’s told incredible, iconic, real-life fashion stories with his photos, and his spirit will live forever in the industry. #RIPBillCunningham – a fashion icon
A photo posted by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid) on Jun 25, 2016 at 4:10pm PDT
BillCunningham’s camera took great pictures but its true superpower was making you feel like a million bucks. RIP to the king of streetstyle
— Eva Chen (@evachen212) June 26, 2016
A photo posted by Anne Hathaway (@annehathaway) on Jun 25, 2016 at 9:26pm PDT
A photo posted by DVF (@dvf) on Jun 25, 2016 at 4:14pm PDT