In a most surprising twist, the beloved late photographer Bill Cunningham — who shot fashion and society photographs for the New York Times for more than 40 years — left behind a memoir before his passing in 2016, and it’s going to publication. The famed street-style shooter was the subject of a 2010 documentary called Bill Cunningham New York, but was otherwise a very private figure, so the discovery of an autobiographical work surprised even his family and friends. It covers much of his life from his childhood in Boston to his term of service in the Korean War to his arrival in New York and evolution from milliner to journalist. The Times published a selection of advanced quotes from the book, including this one about butting up against the expectations of his strict Catholic family as a young boy.
“There I was, 4 years old, decked out in my sister’s prettiest dress,” reads the memoir’s second sentence. “Women’s clothes were always much more stimulating to my imagination. That summer day, in 1933, as my back was pinned to the dining room wall, my eyes spattering tears all over the pink organdy full-skirted dress, my mother beat the hell out of me, and threatened every bone in my uninhibited body if I wore girls’ clothes again.”
As the Times points out, the book’s September arrival will put it on shelves right on time for fashion week.