Bill Cunningham’s Timeless Photography

Bill Cunningham’s camera not only captured fashion but also preserved the evolution of style itself. His photographs, taken in the bustling streets of New York City and the elegant boulevards of Paris, stand as a visual testament to the ever-changing tides of fashion and society.

This book gracefully navigates through five decades, beginning in the 1970s and extending to Cunningham’s untimely passing in 2016. Within its pages, you will discover Cunningham’s unique documentation of iconic events such as the 1980s transit strike, the rise of casual Fridays in the 1990s, the solemn aftermath of 9/11, the historic Inauguration Day in 2009, and the advent of the selfie era. These images delve into the relationship between fashion and the fabric of life, revealing how the two are inextricably intertwined.

Key Features of the Book

  • Iconic Photography: The book features five decades of iconic photography by Bill Cunningham, bringing together favorites published in The New York Times alongside never-before-seen work.
  • Chronicling of Significant Moments: The photographs move from decade to decade, chronicling significant moments such as the 1980s transit strike, the rise of 1990s casual Fridays, the sadness that fell over the city following 9/11, Inauguration Day 2009, the onset of selfies, and many other significant moments.
  • Enriched by Essays: The book is enriched by essays that provide a revealing portrait of Cunningham and a few of his many fascinations and influences, contributed by Cathy Horyn, Tiina Loite, Vanessa Friedman, Ruth La Ferla, Guy Trebay, Penelope Green, Jacob Bernstein, and Anna Wintour.

Unseen Treasures

This exceptional collection boasts an abundance of unseen treasures, many of which have never been publicly displayed before. It skillfully combines these previously unseen gems with Cunningham’s work that was originally published in The New York Times and other reputable publications. These images capture the spirit of their times, serving as a visual record of our collective history. They preserve moments of joy, reflection, and evolution, all carefully curated through the discerning lens of Bill Cunningham.

Bill Cunningham: On the Street
Bill Cunningham: On the Street

Essays and Insights

The book in question is not just a showcase of captivating images; it also offers an intimate glimpse into the life of Bill Cunningham, his varied interests, and the diverse influences that shaped him. To enhance the visual experience, the book features insightful essays penned by notable writers such as Cathy Horyn, Tiina Loite, Vanessa Friedman, Ruth La Ferla, Guy Trebay, Penelope Green, Jacob Bernstein, and Anna Wintour. These essays provide a comprehensive understanding of the person behind the camera, illuminating Cunningham’s unwavering dedication to documenting the world around him.


“On the Street helps fill the void left by Bill’s absence. His voice and his vision are very much alive on these pages, and the pictures and words are possibly even more potent the second time around. Remarkably, even though Bill’s images meticulously and wittily document fashion trends, the photographs never seem dated.  We have in this book the New York we want to believe in, a magical metropolis where every resident, of every species, and even the flowers blooming in the park, have a bewitching style. With this survey of his work, organized both chronologically and thematically, we finally see ourselves as Bill saw us-as a proud and restless tribe of exhibitionist-voyeurs.” – Amy Fine Collins, Vanity Fair special correspondent.

“Bill Cunningham: On the Street is the work of a great anthropologist and fashion genius. Through his skilled eyes and his camera lens, he chronicled a half-century of fashion, capturing the high road, as well as the man or woman, in the fashion parade of daily life. This book is a dazzling kaleidoscope from the gaze of an artist who saw beauty at every turn.” – André Leon Talley, Vogue contributing editor.

“This book is so inspiring, not only for the incredible fashion and images that Bill captured, but also for celebrating his decades-long commitment to the genre of street style.” – Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist.

Bill Cunningham: On the Street
Bill Cunningham: On the Street

About the Author

Bill Cunningham, the creator of this timeless collection, was an American fashion icon and a photographer for The New York Times from 1978 to 2016. Cunningham’s path to the world of photography was fortuitous, as he had previously worked as a hat designer for women and a fashion writer for renowned publications like Women’s Wear Daily and the Chicago Tribune. Cunningham’s enthusiasm for capturing the essence of the streets eventually led to his recognition as a celebrated figure in both the fashion and photography industries.


Bill Cunningham: On the Street” is not just a simple assemblage of photographs, but rather a robust and impactful depiction of the art of visual storytelling. The work of Bill Cunningham serves as a reflection of our shared history, a mirror to the ever-changing world of fashion and culture. This book offers readers the opportunity to observe the evolution of style over five remarkable decades, making it an indispensable contribution to the realm of fashion literature. It’s a vibrant and colorful tapestry of beauty, a time machine that seamlessly transports you through the ages, and a heartfelt homage to a visionary photographer whose work will continue to motivate and resonate for many years to come.

Bill Cunningham: On the Street: Five Decades of Iconic Photography by New York Times. Flexibound: 384 pages. Publisher: Clarkson Potter (September 3, 2019).

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