Pret-a-Reporter

Alina Cho Remembers the First Time She Met Bill Cunningham

Bill Cunningham/Courtesy of Alina Cho
John Demsey, executive group president of The Estée Lauder Companies, and Alina Cho

"I never was able to call him Bill, though — it was always Mr. Cunningham," says the journalist.

Bill Cunningham, the longtime street-style photographer for The New York Times, died Saturday in New York at age 87. He was hospitalized on Thursday after suffering from a stroke. 

Cunningham was beloved for both his photographs of everyday New Yorkers and his sincere personality.

After hearing the sad news of his death, journalist Alina Cho shared her favorite memories of the late photographer with The Hollywood Reporter:

My first memory of Bill was many, many years ago during New York Fashion Week one February, when the shows were still at Bryant Park. I didn't yet know him and he certainly didn't know me but he did notice that I was inappropriately dressed for the blizzard-like conditions and, so, he just quietly walked over and put his big blue parka over my shoulders and said something to the effect of, "Child, wear this — you're cold." I'll never forget it.  

I never was able to call him Bill, though — it was always Mr. Cunningham.  

Some of his most memorable quotes:

Outside Barneys one day when I asked him why he was working on a Sunday: "Child, this isn't work. I've never worked a day in my life."

And long ago when he remembered a white J. Mendel gown I wore to the Southampton hospital benefit, I asked, "How do you remember that dress?" He responded: "Child, I may forget a face, but I never forget a dress."  

And when I sat next to him at the Lanvin show one year, I said, "Mr. Cunningham, what have you liked so far?"

"Oh, child, I love everything the buyers hate."

He routinely dropped off photos that he took of me with handwritten notes, most recently just a month ago. He said he was cleaning up his spring files and wanted me to have them, including the one above with a note on it that said, "The Gucci is terrific."

When Chanel held a fashion show at the Armory in New York last year, I had the great fortune of being seated next to him. As each model walked by, he told me about how the craftsmanship reminded him of what he saw when he covered the shows back in 1948 ... 1948!

I also remember seeing him at Oscar de la Renta's funeral in 2014. Amongst all the dignitaries, fashion designers and celebrities, there was Mr. Cunningham sitting in the very last row, in a lovely suit, crying. It will be forever stamped in my memory.

 

#RIP sweet man. There will never be another. #billcunningham

A photo posted by Alina Cho (@thealinacho) on

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