Party Lines: Anna Wintour, Sarah Jessica Parker, and More Honor Bill Cunningham’s Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence

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Hamish Bowles. Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images

At last night's gala benefit to celebrate Bill Cunningham's Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence, the honoree was as bashful as ever. "All these beautifully dressed women!" he marveled at the door. "They're the ones that should be getting the award, not me." Nearby, a pink-caped Hamish Bowles reminisced about his first time meeting Cunningham. "It would have been at a fashion show in Paris, in the early eighties. I crashed a lot of shows because I was at St. Martins studying fashion. We obviously weren't invited, so we had to concoct all manner of innovative schemes to get in." Like what? "People would invent fictive magazines and create mastheads for them. But I know a friend who actually created a fictive magazine and managed to be invited to most of the shows for about four or five seasons before people realized that there was never any product. And by then, he was actually working for, I think, Japanese Vogue."

Schemes aside, Bowles said that Cunningham was always nice to him. "I do remember is that always, as an extraordinary, gentlemanly courtesy, he’d say, 'Hello, young fellow.' He was particularly kind to fashion students, and I think also at that point, I was far more audaciously dressed than I am now."