April 24 – May 20, 2020

We’re delighted to share an online edition of CPAC’s 2018 exhibition On the Street with Bill Cunningham, presented in partnership with the New York Times. The Times has generously given us permission to post some of Cunningham’s most popular photo essays and audio clips from the exhibit.

Cunningham was best known for his candid photographs of stylish women and men on the streets of New York City. A Harvard University dropout, he was first a designer of women’s hats before moving on to writing about fashion for Women’s Wear Daily and the Chicago Tribune. He began taking candid photographs on the streets of New York City, and his work drew the attention of the New York Times with a 1978 picture of Greta Garbo in an unguarded moment. Cunningham cultivated his own fashion signature, dressing in a uniform of black sneakers and a blue work man’s jacket, his only accessory a camera. He worked for the New York Times until his death in June 2016 at age 87.

Pictured above: Bill Cunningham on the streets of New York, by Jennifer Altman Herrera, courtesy of the New York Times.

A photo montage of women wearing hats photographed by Bill Cunningham for the New York Times.

Turning Heads: On May 7,  the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy held its annual “hat luncheon” for 1,200 guests. The event, which garnered $3.5 million and honored Michael Bloomberg, featured whimsical headdresses masking a serious dedication to the restoration of the park and to the judicious spending of the money raised. Lela Rose arrived on her bike, with Gillian Miniter in the sidecar. The fashion note was a one-piece fitted dress with a full skirt, replacing the luncheon suit, and a lovely surprise to the women in orange was the hue of the traditional umbrellas handed out. (May 18, 2014, the New York Times)

Photographs of a New York City winter scene by Bill Cunningham.

Whiteout: Monday’s snowfall was perhaps the most beautiful in 25 years, bringing an early lacy Valentine to city parks. The next day, men in dress shoes leaping over slush-filled curbs added a humorous if precarious postscript. (February 9, 2014, the New York Times)

Coated: Like a bolt of lightening, the Japanese fashion designer Fei Kawakubo, whose label is Comme des Garçons, has always been a daredevil creative force. But a year ago, her wool-felted coats (think the stiffness of industrial carpeting) were cut in one-dimensional flat shapes, often with appendages that reminded one of armor. They were in colorings of Matisse (shown at the Met, right), or Picasso’s flat sculptures (Shown at the Guggenheim, left). When the clothes were put on, they suddenly became walking art pieces. Her collection, shown in March last year, is in the top row. The other pictures are of women who were lucky enough to find the clothes, since they were produced in very limited quantity and were an instant success and sellout all over the world. (January 20, 2013, the New York Times)

Peacocking: A surprise of the spring party season was the number of men who shed their black-tie uniform for dinner jackets that had flower patterns, were made of brocade, were bejeweled or featured wild flights of fantasy on the lapels (far right). The New York social calendar sill offers very formal occasions, organized by the Metropolitan Opera and Met Museum, where men wear white tie and tails (right). Brocade fabrics came in shades of blue and velvet (bottom). In the late ’60s and ’70s, the peacock revolution spread to men’s dinner jackets, but they quickly reverted to traditional black tie.  (May 22, 2016, the New York Times)

A Tight Grip on the Legs of Manhattan: The gothic and medieval eras are casting their spells over fashion, as designers glance to the past to create the future. Today’s look of black legging and abbreviated coats suggests men in the 1400s. The streets of New York are dominated by this silhouette as seen in the paintings, tapestries and stained glass of the era at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue and the Cloisters, shown here. At two parties last year, above right, a women wore a jacket constructed in the gothic style and man wore an early Renaissance tunic with slim black leather trousers. Among the joys of the Cloisters that reflect this are the hunters in their vividly colored doublets and tights in the series of unicorn tapestries.  (January 13, 2013, the New York Times)