Under almost every other circumstance, having a crowd of photographers crowding the entrance of a memorial service would be seen as louche and tacky. But at Bill Cunningham‘s service yesterday, which was held at Carnegie Hall, the crush of photographers was not only welcome, it was embraced by the crowd of fashion insiders and celebrities. As Anna Wintour famously said, “we all get dressed for Bill,” and this well-dressed crowd proved just that, for one last time. Rather than wearing all-black, they donned fanciful frocks with architectural details, or their take on a French blue jacket, in homage to Cunningham’s signature style.
Further, this memorial service was better attended than any fashion show could ever be. The likes of Michael Kors, Iman, Ralph Lauren, Naomi Campbell, Michael Bloomberg, Vera Wang and Iris Apfel all turned up to remember their late, great friend.
The long-time photographer, whose street style column in The New York Times was a must-read, passed away on June 25, 2016. Often spotted riding his bike around town, wearing that iconic blue jacket, Cunningham was as much a part of the Manhattan landscape as the Empire State Building or Central Park. In honor of his memory, a bike was set up on the Carnegie Hall stage (Cunningham lived upstairs, in the Carnegie Hall Towers for 60 years) with a street sign that denoted the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. The corner, which has been renamed Bill Cunningham Corner, was a frequent haunt for the photog, regardless of the season; he was always prepared to document the characters who stalked his city’s streets.
Carnegie Hall board president Sanford Weill spoke, as did Bloomberg and Wintour, the latter of whom read the Lord Byron poem “So We’ll Go No More a Roving.” The Canarsie Wobblers, a favorite dance troupe of Cunningham’s, also performed. It was clear to all that Cunningham was a beloved member of the industry.