It took a spilled vodka and one ruined dress to get Bill Cunningham to agree to speak at the 92nd Street Y as part of Fern Mallis's Fashion Icon series. Mallis said last night that she'd been trying to convince the photography legend for years, but only got him to budge when he was feeling extra apologetic about spilling her drink at the CFDAs. In front of a packed house that included Carolina Herrera and Marylou Luther, she sat down with the 85-year-old New York Times veteran, who insisted on taking his signature lightning-fast snapshots of the audience. Here are just a few of the things we learned about Bill.
• His favorite time to take pictures is 8:30 in the morning.
• Over Mallis's protests, he doesn't believe in wearing a helmet. "When it's a law, I'll [wear it]. I don't need it."
• When he worked at a women's boutique as a newcomer to New York, one of his duties was dyeing a red Balenciaga (or possibly Dior, he doesn't recall) suit black for Jackie Kennedy to wear to JFK's funeral.
• Before his bicycle, he was kind of a car guy: He used to drive a custom-made 1934 Rolls-Royce that he bought used for $500, which he'd use to chauffeur friends to the Hamptons.
• When he was still working as a milliner, he got a call from Harper's Bazaar: "William, rush over with the hats and so on. Mrs. Vreeland wants to look at him." To his horror, the legendary editor began cutting the brim of one of his creations. "She said, 'Well, maybe I cut a little too much off — just add it back on.'"
• One of his early editors at the Times, Gloria Emerson, called him "hopelessly illiterate."
• In the early '60s, he once bolted out of an Oscar de la Renta show to take photos of antiwar protesters on the street. He also photographed one of the first "be-ins," in Central Park, and the famed Fire Island party that is re-created in the opening scene of The Normal Heart.
• His favorite fashion show was the Battle of Versailles in 1973, which featured performances from Liza Minnelli and Rudolf Nureyev, and designs from YSL, Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, and Stephen Burrows.
• He's upset that his signature blue street-sweeper jackets have gone up in price from $20 to $55. (And down in quality: They feel like "dishcloths.")
Most Viewed Stories
Melania Trump Is Reportedly ‘Miserable’ in Her Role As First Lady
When Good Christian Girls Need Planned Parenthood
Nighttime Voice-mails From the White House
My Daughter’s Suburban Childhood Looks Nothing Like My Urban One
Trump Somehow Found a Way to Insult Women at the Unveiling of an Airplane
Fixer Upper’s First Single Bachelor Is Causing Some Drama
Angelina Jolie Attended the Premiere of Her New Movie in Cambodia
Chrissy Teigen on ‘Underrepresented’ Asian Models and Appropriation
Zoe Saldana Shares the First Photo of Her Newborn Baby
Angela Merkel Is Also Powerless Against Justin Trudeau’s Gaze
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesCiara's Wedding Dress Was Too Big for the Chapel
To be fair, it was a 13 foot-long dress.You and Rihanna Will Both Want to Invest in Dior’s New Bag
It's got something for everyone.Polo Shirts Have Turned Their Back on Ryan Lochte
Along with his other major sponsors.Ryan Lochte Will No Longer Be Paid to Wear Tiny Bathing Suits
Speedo remains committed to transparency.Laura Brown Is the New Editor-in-Chief of InStyle
After 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar.Tyra Banks Is Going to Teach a Class on Smizing at Stanford
"If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them."This Floating Pier Is the Most Zen Installation Ever
Walking on water in Italy.Nation Is Appalled by Matt Lauer’s Nude Ankles During Ryan Lochte Interview
What’s the opposite of “Jeah”?8 People at the Life of Pablo Pop-up Explain Why Kanye West Is a God
"I mean, Kanye West is just Kanye West. There's not more or less you can say about Kanye West. He's just Mr. West!"A T-shirt Is Enough
Simplicity, versatility, and cool. What more could you want?
She took a perfect pencil dive off a 30-foot yacht.American Apparel Is Being Sued by Former Workers
As the company considers putting itself up for sale.A Gendered History of the Tailored Suit
From Marlon Brando to Coco Chanel.How Zendaya Developed Such Great Style at the Young Age of 19
The star's best looks from Disney to now.Proof That If You’re Chic Enough, a Little Federal Investigation Doesn’t Matter
Is this the best they could do?5,300-Year-Old Mummified Iceman Probably Would’ve Been a Street-Style Star
He had several different looks and was “pretty picky.”J.Crew Has Identified 226 Shades of Pink
Even more than there are shades of gray.Gigi and Bella Hadid Merch Is Now Somehow a Thing That Is Happening
Today in Hadidiana.Gird Your Loins for the Return of Yeezy to New York Fashion Week
The season approaches.This Indie Brand Had a Great Response to Ivanka Trump
When she bought one of their cuffs, they donated the proceeds to the Clinton campaign.