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Fashion’s elite remember Bill Cunningham

Gigi Hadid, Rihanna, and others pay tribute to the style icon

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Weekly updates

“The best fashion show is definitely on the street. Always has been. Always will be,” Bill Cunningham famously said. Iconic words by one of the most influential photographers of our time.

Following his death at the age of 87, after he’d been hospitalised following a stroke, there was an outpour of sentiment across social media, recognising the invaluable contribution Cunningham’s legacy has had on style and photography.

Cunningham, a New York Times fashion photographer for nearly 40 years, was known for his trademark blue jacket and bicycle. “I could never concentrate on Sunday church services because I’d be concentrating on women’s hats,” he once said. I think this is one of his most telling quotes; it perfectly encapsulates the reason behind his success. Simply, his love for women’s hats. His love of capturing beauty.

In our own tribute to the wonder that was Bill Cunningham, we’ve collected the sentiments of celebrities, fashion moguls, and designers alike. Bill, your talent was unequalled. You will be dearly missed.

Check out Cunningham’s tributes, from the fashion’s elite, below.

  • Image: The Sartorialist

01. Marc Jacobs

The sentiments of the fashion world were mirrored by Marc Jacobs’ tribute.

02. Iris Apfel

A photo posted by Iris Apfel (@iris.apfel) on

“Words cannot express the sorrow,” wrote Apfel, a style icon and queen of NYC fashion.

03. Naomi Campbell

“Dear Bill Cunningham got to know you since #1986 , you always had the biggest smile that would light up a city, always called me kid when I was way beyond one . And So elegant you always was . So sad to lose you such a great man with a beautiful soul . Going to the Metball and any other big fashion red carpets will not be the same without you . I love you always , condolences to your family #RIP.”

04. Jeremy Scott

A photo posted by Jeremy Scott (@itsjeremyscott) on

The designer reminisced on his initial encounter with Cunningham. “This is the first photo Bill Cunningham took of me,” Scott wrote. “I was 18 years old and was offered a ticket to the CFDA awards from school. I was all dolled up in my fancy Dudz w a vintage top hat and scarg. I felt so cool and that was validated 100% when Bill snapped my photo. The next day when I was back at school working at the job placement centre on campus the phone rang. I answered it and it was none other other than Bill Cunningham. He said, “I took some pictures last night at the CFDA of some students from Pratt and need help to find their names”. I enthusiastically replied, “You photographed me! I was wearing the top hat and scarf with the slit leg tuxedo pants, that was me! That was me!” “Oh good,” Bill exclaimed and told me I looked fantastic and described the looks of my friends so I could give him their names too (this was pre internet remember!). He thanked me and generously sent me a print of the photo! His validation of my personal style gave me so much fuel to believe I was on the right path at that very tender age. As he was one of the people who inspired me to want to go into fashion. This meant the world to me, he meant the world to me.”

05. Vera Wang

A photo posted by Vera Wang (@verawanggang) on

Another designer close to Cunnigham’s heart, Vera Wang, expressed a poignant tribute. “As someone who was always supportive, kind, elegant, and brilliant, I will miss your enormous contribution to fashion, but even more importantly, your passion and humility. You always called me “child” and thanks to you, I will always try. Rest in Peace my dear friend xx”.

06. Jaime King

A photo posted by Jaime King (@jaime_king) on

“Another Soul has passed. I love you so very, very much,” wrote the American model, and friend of Cunningham’s. “I cannot imagine after 20 years of seeing you that you will not be there somewhere quietly clicking away. Thank you for capturing our lives and my youth until adulthood. You were THE one and only. God bless you.”

07. Iman

A photo posted by IMAN (@the_real_iman) on

The late-David Bowie’s wife, Iman, discusses the historic relationship between the photographer and the New York Times.  “Sunday NY Times will never be the same without legendary photographer Bill Cunningham’s photos.” We tend to agree.

08. Ralph Lauren

A photo posted by Ralph Lauren (@ralphlauren) on

“‘It’s as true to today as it ever was, he who seeks beauty, will find it.’ RIP Bill Cunningham, a true New York icon who found lasting beauty in the city’s daily parade of fashion and style.” A powerful quote, and statement, from the designer, with whom Cunningham had had a lengthy camaraderie with.

09. Gigi Hadid

010. Rihanna

A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

A Cunningham homage in true Rihanna style. The pair had had several encounters, especially at the annual MET Gala. “First rule in this thang….when Bill asks for a picture…pose bitch!!! R.I.P Legend! We gon’ miss you in dese streets!!!”