I have been not so patiently waiting to read this book! I knew about Bill Cunningham from his "On the Street" column in the New York Times, but I didn't really know anything about him. That all changed when I watched the 2010 documentary "Bill Cunningham: New York". I was smitten immediately with this charming 80 year old man and completely fell in love with him and everything he embodied.
For those of us who were left wanting more, turns out the very private Mr. Cunningham, penned a secret memoir that was discovered by his family after his death in 2016. If ever there was a silver lining to the end of his legendary life this was it! The NYT called it the equivalent "of a major archaeological revelation."
His deeply personal accounts of growing up in an Irish Catholic family in the 1930's with his budding creativity and fascination and unapologetic love of women's fashion is incredibly moving. Although his reflections on his younger years are brief, they had me in tears. I imagined how difficult it must of been--for someone who truly was able to seek and find the beauty in almost every situation--to be faced with such ugliness and disapproval from your own family. But that is precisely why Bill is so endearing, in his mind, he thought of how difficult it must of been for them.
"It's as true today as it ever was, he who seeks beauty will find it." Bill Cunningham
He continues on with his first forays into fashion, retail and millinery--even his time in France serving in the Korean war (flowered helmet and all). It's filled with expressions and words no one really uses anymore, like dames and ritzy, and that makes it all the more delightful. His bright and optimistic personality comes through in his writing style and his vivid descriptions had me traveling through time and fully present for his serendipitous adventures.
I liken Bill's life to that of a fashion forward Forrest Gump, somehow every situation led him to these extraordinary experiences. He was scrappy and resourceful and never let anything get in the way of the beauty he sought.
"It’s a really beautiful story about a young, artistic man finding his way in the city, in a particular kind of bohemian world that doesn’t quite exist anymore." - Christopher Richards, Editor