Like many others, I was saddened to learn that the visionary Bill Cunningham, is no longer with us. I have moved from New York and, subsequently, had stopped hoping he would appear on his bicycle and stop in front of me, enchanted by my cobbled-together fashion statement of that day. Maybe then I would have composed myself to tell him that he was a hero of mine, one of the good guys who inspired us all to try a little harder to celebrate the exquisite beauty to behold even in the ordinary, if we keep our eyes and minds open.
“Bill Cunningham, Where Art Thou? A Post Fashion Week Reflection” was originally posted on September 15, 2013
New York City
I thought, by now, surely Bill Cunningham would have spotted me on the streets of Manhattan, especially last week when I was having an especially good fashion day decked out as I tend to be, in a playful combination of vintage consignment shop, pristine dead-stock thrift shop finds and my original jewelry hand-crafted from recycled materials. My oversize red plastic stop sign tote bag has brought smiles to passers-by (and stopped traffic) and I frequently am asked by passersby where they can purchase various items that I am wearing. I’ve even predicted the “What They Are Wearing” trends way early- for example, all that bright yellow in today’s NY Times Style section? Been there, done that: when last year I snagged a pair of electric lemon yellow Anne Taylor Loft light weight wool trousers, apparently a sample, at my neighborhood Goodwill store. That definitely would have earned me a spot in Bill’s column, but I suppose I was ahead of the curve, and of course, timing is everything. So you can imagine my utter amazement this afternoon, when I’d thrown on a sweater over my running pants and hopped onto the 79th Street crosstown bus to catch the last hours on the last day of a museum show I’d been dying to see and suddenly noticed that the lovely gentleman who was sitting down next to me was wearing an unmistakable, distinctive blue cotton jacket. I thought I was imagining this, and tried not to stare. How could this be happening?
Could Bill Cunningham actually be sitting down next to me on the bus? It was not supposed to happen this way! He was supposed to be on his bicycle, with his camera! I was supposed to be wearing on of my great outfits! He’d spot me, be smitten and simply have to take my picture and find out all about me and my uncanny sense of style! We rode along in silence as I pondered the situation. What could I say? “Mr. Cunningham, I am a great admirer of yours because you are a true visionary who defines fashion because you see it before others do, and I have always wanted to meet you, but just not today…” But I said nothing. I was in the window seat so when I stood to exit I apologized for disturbing him and mumbled something about being a fan, but I fear my words were muffled by the driver’s announcement of the next stop. What am I supposed to learn from this brush with one of my great heroes, I asked myself? The lesson, I suppose, is that fashion is in the eye of the beheld.