Bill Cunningham, Famed Street Fashion Photographer, Dies At 87

He had chronicled street style for The New York Times for nearly 40 years.

26/06/2016 7:33 AM AEST | Updated 26/06/2016 7:38 AM AEST

Bill Cunningham, the beloved photographer known for his keen eye for street style, has died.

Cunningham died in New York on Saturday, announced The New York Times, his longtime employer. He was 87 and had recently been hospitalized for a stroke.

The photographer became a staple on the streets of New York City and often spoke of his disinterest in taking photos of famous people. "I'm not interested in celebrities with their free dresses. I'm interested in clothes," he said in a movie about his life, "Bill Cunningham New York."

Noam Galai/Getty Images

Cunningham, who started out in advertising and later became a milliner, making hats under the brand William J., started contributing to the Times in 1978, getting into street style as it was first emerging on the fashion scene. In fact, long before the days of fashion blogging, Cunningham prowled the streets of New York with his friend Editta Sherman to create a series of truly breathtaking street style images.

For many Fashion Week attendees in years to come, being photographed by Cunningham would be the ultimate validation. As Anna Wintour so perfectly put it in "Bill Cunningham New York," "I've said many times that we all get dressed for Bill."

And yet, for all of his accomplishment and regard, Cunningham always maintained a sense of modesty, straying away from interviews and keeping mostly to himself. In an essay he wrote for the Times in 2002, he revealed what brought him to taking fashion photos in the first place.

"The problem is I'm not a good photographer. To be perfectly honest, I'm too shy," he said. "Not aggressive enough. Well, I'm not aggressive at all. I just loved to see wonderfully dressed women, and I still do. That's all there is to it."

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