Bill Cunningham New York

  • 12A
  • Richard Press (2010)
  • US (SUB)
  • 84 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
4 out of 5

In his role as photographer for the society and street-style pages of the New York Times, Bill Cunningham has been the city's leading fashion chronicler for more than 30 years. Richard Press's documentary turns the lens back on the man who, even at the age of 80, hasn't lost his ability to capture the trends being sported along Manhattan's bustling avenues all the way up to the catwalks of Paris. Cunningham comes across as very much a man out of time: shooting on rolls of film and dressed in signature blue smock, while nimbly traversing the city at all hours by pushbike. His spartan lifestyle is also very much at odds with the glitzy world he documents; at the time the movie was made he was living surrounded by filing cabinets of negatives in one of the celebrated bohemian apartments above Carnegie Hall. But his eager grin and old-world charm mask an uncompromising perfectionist who has given his entire life to fashion. Like the Vogue-centric 2009 documentary The September Issue, there are plenty of colourful characters eager to pay tribute, including Vogue high priestess Anna Wintour herself, and assorted dandies and eccentrics, not least Shail Upadhya, a former Nepalese diplomat to the UN, whose way-out wardrobe is a humorous highlight. Cunningham comes across a little like one of these interesting oddballs himself, but he's spared any ridicule, and in one scene offers an unexpected, fleeting glimpse of a secret sadness in his life. But, echoing the respect the lensman famously accords his own subjects, Press doesn't pry like an overbearing paparazzo. As such, this isn't the confessional exposé some would hope, but it is a reverent profile of a fascinating, funny and inspirational gentleman.

Plot Summary

Documentary following the veteran New York Times fashion photographer, whose youthful energy and unerring eye for the latest trends have kept him on top of his game into his 80s.

Cast and crew


Bill Cunningham
Bill Cunningham


Richard Press

Other Information

English, French +subtitles
Theatrical distributor: 
Released 16 Mar 2012