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New NYC exhibition will celebrate the stylish legacy of Bill Cunningham

Will Gleason

Dress to impress when heading to the New-York Historical Society this summer.

The Upper West Side institution announced today that it will honor beloved late fashion photographer Bill Cunningham with a special exhibition exploring his elegant life and fascinating work. Celebrating Bill Cunningham, opening June 8, marks NYHS’s recent acquisition of a number of items from Cunningham's estate, including photographs and personal letters.

Some highlights of the items on display include the Cunningham’s instantly-recognizable bicycle, his first camera (an Olympus Pen-D, 33mm), his signature blue jacket and a few of the handmade Valentines he would often send to friends and family.

Before becoming a fixture of the fashion industry, Cunningham worked as a milliner in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The show is set to highlight that lesser-known aspect of his life with items on view from his original millinery line, William J. In a bit of foreshadowing of his later career, a 1958 rave review in the New York Times stated that the collection “had cornered the face-framing market with some of the most extraordinarily pretty cocktail hats ever imagined.”

After shuttering that line in 1962, Cunningham went on to make a major impact on fashion journalism through a multi-decade career at the Times, shooting everything from street style to high society events. Expect to see many examples of those iconic shots alongside the more personal objects on display.

The new exhibition follows the recent discovery of Cunningham's secret memoir which is sure to provide an even more revealing look at the photographer's fascinating life. 

Photograph: Courtesy New-York Historical Society

Photograph: Courtesy New-York Historical Society

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