Bill Cunningham New York

A profile of one of the most intriguing people I think I have ever heard of, this documentary attempts to shed light on a very complex, enigmatic human being. Anybody who is anybody in the New York fashion world knows him as a guru, (“the most important man in the world”, according to one fashion insider), brimming with integrity, whose only desire in life is to photograph clothing. Yet he is obsessed with the clothing that people are actually wearing and so spends all day, every day, out in the streets of New York photographing people with a unique look. Yes, he goes to fashion shows, but only to photograph the newest, wearable, most interesting, fashion ideas. Despite his fame and success, this is a man who lives in a closet-sized studio apartment, jammed pack with nothing but filing cabinets and a single bed on planks (no kitchen, no bathroom), who uses the bicycle as his sole mode of transportation, and wears janitors’ shirts because they are the cheapest clothing item he can find. Another fashionista describes him as a “a great equalizer”, who didn’t care if you were young or old, fat or slim, black or white, movie star or a homeless person. All that mattered was what you were wearing. He refuses a salary, saying that accepting payment for what he does will only compromise his freedom of expression. He has never had a romantic relationship, yet seems to be one of the kindest people alive with a great sense of humour and loyalty. He is seemingly a paradox and you spend the whole movie desperately wanting to know how someone like this can exist. Near the end of the documentary you get a glimpse into his troubled psyche and you begin to suspect what drives him to live the way he does. I came away from this film inspired and greatly appreciative that there are people like this in the world.

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