Some people think I’m weird. And then you meet someone like Bill Cunningham. I say meet because that’s precisely what I felt whilst watching Bill Cunningham New York. The documentary gave us a glimpse of the man behind the lenses and the dollar store blue smock he has made so infamous.Bill lives and breathes his work. Taking photos of people and their wears on the streets of NY has been a part of this man way before the Sartorialist and FaceHunter made street fashion an “in thing” (not that I’m bagging either blogs out or anything, but it must be acknowledged that Bill is the original street style photographer).The thing about Bill that struck a chord with me the most was his pursuit of beauty in its realest form. How everyday people wear and interpret clothes. Whether its a bald drag queen in heels, a shirtless guy in a baseball cap and below-the-waistline baggy pants or a well-gowned socialite dripping in diamonds – Bill treats everyone equally. There is such a purity in his pursuit; something that I don’t feel happens too often these days especially in the world of fashion. He’s a simple and practical man who doesn’t take to fancy meals and parties or luxurious studio apartments – Bill opts for a tiny room with single bed surrounded by filing cabinet after filing cabinet of film negatives and a bacon and egg bagel from his local diner. Its almost a beautiful contradiction really.I guess this is where the ‘weird’ comes in. Bill may be weird to many. But he is a remarkable inspiration to many, many more. That’s somewhere I’d like to be someday. Reveling in my weirdness. I feel like one of the reasons why Bill loves what he does is because he’s untainted by the evils of our world – money, fame, status, material wealth (to name a few). He basically lives the saying “like a kid in a candy store”, on a daily basis. His work excites him. Only when you’re a kid do you really dream and imagine without serious influence from the outside world. Then you hit adulthood and life becomes so much more serious and dictated by aforementioned evils – so much so that you start to lose a sense of self. Well, that’s how I feel anyway.
But I guess, that’s life. You have to go through troughs before you reach the highs and you just deal with it and just do what you have to do without compromising the little things that make you happy.
And yes, old people happen to be one of those little things for me. Its got nothing to do with fashion or a creepy fetish for the elderly. Its something deeper than that. I think that for most people, there are only two stages of life where you are at your purest in terms of external factors having the least impact on you: Early childhood and old age. When you’re a kid, there’s a raw and uninhibited sense that “anything’s possible”. When you’re 70, you’ve accumulated so many experiences and been bombarded with so many responsibilities and expectations that you basically become immune to it all and all you have to worry about now is going about the rest of your life with a simplicity that was not so simple whilst you were rat-racing yourself through your 20s and 30s. So that’s why I take pleasure in snapping oldies.
My own pursuit of beauty (in a weird way).