Beloved New York Times Styles section photographer Bill Cunningham generally avoids interviews. However, at a party held in his honor last night on the third floor of Bergdorf Goodman, several encouraging attendees told us, “He’s in a good mood tonight.”
With that in mind, we gave chase, following the blue-suited Mr. Cunningham through racks of clothes as part of the shifting, seemingly impenetrable ring of friends and admirers that surrounded him as he made the rounds. After a few false starts (“Just a moment, I must talk to this woman from the museum” followed by many obliging smiles), we finally cornered Mr. Cunningham and asked him to tell us about some of his favorite photographs.
“Oh, I don’t think of it that way,” he said. “I just look for beautifully dressed women.” We wondered what it was like for the normally reticent photographer to be the center of attention, gesturing to the collages of his work that lined the walls of the store: “Well, I’ve never thought of anything like that. It’s something that doesn’t interest me. I think it’s better to be invisible, you know.”
Why be invisible?
“Oh, the camera, of course! I don’t become the subject.”
Did he have any special plans for the shots he had been joyously lobbing back at his legion, camera-wielding devotees over the course of the evening?
“Oh, you never know. I never know. I just take what I like and later I think about it.”
We also spoke with the Village Voice fashion columnist Lynn Yaeger (a Cunningham photo of whom is prominently displayed in the Bergdorf window). Her thoughts on the current incarnation of Fashion Week?
“Well, it’s a crazy year! The market is crazy. You’re designing clothes for a season—this spring—when you don’t know how much money people will have or who will be president,” she said. “I think those things, you know, inform what you see. Because it’s hard to know what the mood is right now. It’s skittish now, so it’s skittish on the runways.”