Street style photographer Bill Cunningham is a national treasure. He’s an American institution and a style icon in his own right: he deserves to be knighted by Barack Obama for being a beacon of creative inspiration and hope in America. The popular and wildly successful documentary Bill Cunningham New York illustrated his greatness to wider audiences and he certainly has a cult status in and out of the fashion world. To celebrate the photographer and the frenzy of Fashion Week in New York, New York Magazine‘s The Cut tasked eight illustrators with creating homages to Bill. They are sweet dedications from talented adorers that make him look his best and exude his perpetual positivity and quirkiness.
The work represents Bill in so many great ways. Anna Higgie attempts to get inside Bill’s brain by showing all of the possibilities and potential fashionistas (inadvertent or not) that he could shoot. Silja Goetz gives Cunningham a realistic, happy study as Carlos Aponte turns him into a delightful, textured, taped cartoon. Virginia Johnson opts to provide the idea of Cunningham through water colors, taking him back to a younger year and showing off his own beauty.
Although varied, there are some very common themes in the work namely that Bill is always represented by himself, with camera, and sometimes with bike. He is pictured as a New York City deity, a special person that requires a special type of treatment. You can tell that those who were asked to participate did not take the task lightly and put so much care into the work. Hopefully Bill himself will happen upon this story: we need to celebrate him as much as we can. You can see all of the illustrations here.