The Fashion and Style in Photography Festival continues: the Multimedia Art Museum, with the support of MasterCard, is showing a breathtaking photo chronicle of fashionable New York in the late 1960s and early 1990s, filmed by legendary street photographer and journalist Bill Cunningham. Tells Igor Grebelnikov.
Looking at the pictures of Bill Cunningham (1929–2016), you can’t even say that it was better before – everything was so different before. And it is simply impossible to imagine today on the streets or behind the scenes of fashion shows the emancipation and joy of life that shines through every now invaluable shot of this exhibition. And it’s not just about medical masks. There is a lot, of course, in the eyes of the beholder – in a great photographer, a modest hard worker, an eternal freelancer who, even at eighty-odd years, regularly got out on a bicycle, dressed in a simple blue jacket, to shoot on the streets of Manhattan. At the favorite intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, at the entrances to shows and social events, and anywhere, he photographed what seemed to him beautiful, interesting, modern and important – fashionably dressed people. At the same time, he did not focus on celebrities, he did not even know many by sight. So, for example, it happened with the great recluse Greta Garbo. But it was no coincidence that an elderly woman in a knitted hat and dark glasses got into the frame: later, when she was identified by the editors of The New York Times, the reporter admitted that the lady attracted him with her elegant mink coat.
The Moscow exhibition brings together photographs taken in different years, but they all seem to be in the same breath, on the same wavelength with those in front of the lens – very famous, successful or completely unknown, but fashionably or flashy-dressed passers-by, ready to immediately respond to calling the photographer to smile, take a pose. Still young, but already deputy editor-in-chief of Harpers & Queen magazine Anna Wintour is a purposeful girl with a pen and a notebook. We will meet her in the exposition more than once – already as the chief editor of the main fashion magazine, but even without a shadow of primness, laughing, showing an excellent figure in the most fashionable outfits. The queen of Studio 54, the flamboyant singer Grace Jones, and the next photo is an unknown guest of the club, no less self-confident than the dark-skinned diva: a girl in a mini-dress, freely spreading her legs in fishnet tights, writes something in a notebook. A whole gallery of some elderly fashionistas in front of the windows, and then a boldly dressed bohemian from the streets. And recognized stars Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Elizabeth Taylor, David Bowie, and representatives of alternative culture Keith Haring, Boy George, Klaus Nomi, and the main fashion designers of those years Versace, Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and then just eccentric tycoon Donald Trump with his wife Ivana and daughter Ivanka – all in high spirits, in informal situations. The feeling of an endless celebration of life, it seems, never left Cunningham and, of course, infected everyone around him, the readers of his biting columns and reports with his own photographs. Nothing in it has changed neither the fashion of recent years (what kind of elegance is there?), Nor the Internet and social networks – all the same curiosity and delight in front of people who, by their appearance, seem to challenge changing circumstances.
“There is only one rule in fashion that should not be forgotten by clients or designers,” Cunningham argued in his brilliantly written autobiography Fashionable Ascent, which we published two years ago. spirit of the times, at that very second forget about everything that you have learned, turn it upside down, find a new application of the old formula. Fashion lives and breathes with constant change. ” When in 2016, at the age of 88, Cunningham died, they grieved not only on the pages of fashion magazines – they collected a petition to rename that corner of Fifth Avenue to the crossroads of his name. But his pictures became the best monument to the photographer and fashion enthusiast. Once he created fanciful hats and dreamed of “making the world a happier place by dressing women in such a way that they would inspire themselves and everyone who saw them, God, what an idealist I was! after all, women used fashion to impress girlfriends, climb the social ladder, and God knows for what purpose, but not for pure pleasure. ” He managed to convey inspiring energy and love in photographs, which are all the more surprising the more hectic the times come.