Fashion

“A true gentleman”: social media floods with tributes for iconic fashion photographer Bill Cunningham

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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The fashion world was mourning the loss of one of its greats this weekend, following the death of iconic photographer Bill Cunningham.

Hailed as the "father of street style", Cunningham was one of the first photographers to capture fashion as it happened on the street, rather than simply on celebrities. The self-taught 87-year-old took stunning images on the streets of New York and was a front row fixture at most fashion shows, loved by celebrities and designers alike.

Since his death on Saturday, social media has been bursting with tributes to the "true gentlemen", with everyone from Rihanna and Gigi Hadid to The New York Times, who he worked for, posting heartfelt messages and images.

See all the best here.

  • Ellen von Unworth

    Goodbye fellow photographer @billcunningham send us some pictures so we see what the angels wear.

    @ellenvonunworth

  • Karlie Kloss

    Regramming this photo from 2013. Rest in peace #BillCunningham

    @karliekloss

  • Iris Apfel

    #billcunningham

    @iris.apfel

  • Humans of NY

    Bill Cunningham may have taken over a million photographs in his life. Nobody catalogued New York City’s inhabitants as devotedly or extensively as Mr. Cunningham. His work will always remain a massive monument to the city. But his biggest impact on me will always be his joy. True joy seems to subside with age. There is happiness in every stage of life, but giddiness seems to belong to the young. Mr. Cunningham remained a young man until he passed away yesterday. When I watched him work, I always kept my eyes on his smile. It was always there. And it held the secret to life. Bill Cunningham discovered what he loved, he did it every day, and he was joyous until the end. He figured it all out. And he pointed the way for the rest of us.

    @humansofny

  • Anne Hathaway

    RIP #BillCunningham. A true gentleman and wonderful artist. You will be missed xx

    @annehathaway

  • Rihanna

    First rule in this thang....when Bill asks for a picture...pose bitch!!! R.I.P Legend!  We gon' miss you in dese streets!!! #BillCunningham

    @badgalriri

  • Jamie Kopit

    Beyond honored to have caught the eye of the great Bill Cunningham. It was so surreal when @omarzrobles told me to turn around in the middle of street, only to see Bill on his bike with his camera pointed at me! He was an incredible man, may he rest in peace.#ripbillcunningham #RIP #billcunningham #truenewyorker #OZR_Dance

    @jkopit

  • Naomi Campbell

    Dear Bill Cunningham got to know you since#1986 , you always had the biggest smile that would light up a city, always called me kid when I was way beyond one . And So elegant you always was . So sad to lose you such a great man with a beautiful soul . Going to the Metball and any other big fashion red carpets will not be the same without you . I love you always , condolences to your family #RIP 

    @iamnaomicampbell

  • Sarah Jessica Parker

    On the street, at those fancy occasions and part of our city an essential piece will be noticeably changed.
    You and your great big gorgeous smile will be terribly missed Mr. Cunningham.
    It was a gift to know you and witnessing you work a sublime memory. 
    RIP

    @sarahjessicaparker

  • Stella McCartney

    Bill you were always there with a smile and such class. A truly great man and artist capturing all the moments... I will miss you x Stella

    @stellamccartney

  • Eva Chen

    I can still remember the first time I was shot by #BillCunningham. I called my boyfriend (now husband)@sxmco bellowing something along the lines of "omgbillcunninghamshotmeomg". The buzz and excitement of having his lens on you even for a nanosecond never got old. RIP to the great Bill, whose infectious and giddy love of fashion truly reflects the best of the industry, whose camera invented the street style category, and whose work ethic is a reminder to find a job you love and do it with gusto. Perfect illustration of Bill by@thingslizwants.

    @evachen212

  • Drew Barrymore

    ALL HAIL BILL CUNNINGHAM! He was a legend. One of a kind. Beyond special and unique. Watch BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK, the incredible documentary on his life. Every time I would see him at an event with his camera I would watch him and marvel. He put so many beautiful images into the world and saw people and fashion in a way that will always be iconic to him.

    @drewbarrymore

  • Anna Cleveland

    #billcunningham, this truly iconic men has been taking pictures of my mom since 1968 and of me since I was born. He will never be replaceable
    #repost @michelgaubert thank you for finding this beautiful photo

    @anna_vrc

  • Bridget Moynahan

    #repos t#photobombing #BillCunningham @CFDA #awards @lelarose @nytimes #onthestreet #rip #legend #icon #gentleman #fashion

    @bridgetmoynahan

  • Gigi Hadid

    I remember being almost starstruck the first time Bill stepped in front of me with his camera on the street. I was honored. He's told incredible, iconic, real-life fashion stories with his photos, and his spirit will live forever in the industry.#RIPBillCunningham - a fashion icon

    @gigihadid

  • Zac Posen

    William #billcunningham #legend #oneofakind #restinpeace

    @zacposen

  • Jeremy Scott

    THIS WAS THE LAST TIME BILL PHOTOGRAPHED ME. ITS AT THE MET GALA THIS PAST MAY. AWLAYS HAPPY TO SEE HIM I WAS SMILING FOR THE CAMERA~ WHICH IS SOMETHING I NEGLECT TO DO OFTON. SO A FEW WEEKS LATER SWEETLY I RECEIVED A MESSAGE FROM IS RIGHT HAND MAN JOHN SAYING BILL WANTED ME TO HAVE THESE PICTURES FROM THE MET, NEVER KNOWING THAT WOULD OF BEEN THE LAST TIME ID VISIT WITH HIM THESE PHOTOS NOW TAKE A MUCH MORE SIGNIFICANT MEANING TO ME THAN I IMAGINED THEN.#RIPBILLCUNNINGHAM

    @itsjeremyscott

  • Michel Gaubert

    Andre Leon Talley and Bill Cunningham

    @michelgaubert

  • Vogue magazine

    As Anna Wintour once said, “We all dress for Bill.”

    @voguemagazine

  • Victoria Justice

    I was so sad yesterday to hear of the passing of the legendary, Bill Cunningham. Here's a little story... I watched a documentary about this iconic NY street style photographer, called "Bill Cunningham New York" last year (a must see if you're into fashion, btw). I was so taken by this sweet man & his commitment to his art... you can't help but fall in love with him. All I could think after watching was, I want to be photographed by Bill! How cool would that be?!
    A few months later I was in NYC for fashion week. I stepped out of my car at the DVF show & photographers started snapping shots. I was so distracted by what was happening in front of me, that I didn't realize there was a familiar face in a familiar blue jacket taking pictures to my left. My stylist Madison (who is equally obsessed with Bill) gets my attention amidst the chaos & points at sweet Bill. What happened next was completely unexpected. I saw him, freaked out & excitedly screamed "BILLLL!!!". I'm pretty sure I startled him & he shyly smiled & took some pictures of me. A wave of emotion came over me & I started to cry. I tried to hide my tears of joy as I posed for a few more shots, hoping that people wouldn't notice. I made my way over to Bill & told him how much I loved him & asked for a picture. He was so adorable & kind & gentle. 
    #RIP #BillCunningham 
    It was an honor to have met you & to have been photographed by you. I hope wherever you are, you still have that camera of yours.

    @victoriajustice

  • Marc Jacobs

    #RIP Bill Cunningham

    @billcunningham

  • Barneys New York

    "The best fashion show is definitely on the street. Always has been. Always will be." -Bill Cunningham

    @barneysNY

  • Man Repeller

    Remembering Bill Cunningham, the man who democratized fashion with sidewalks as his platform

    @manrepeller

  • Justin Theroux

    Snapped this pic of the camera shy Bill Cunningham at the Met Ball.

    The first in NYC to always see what was truly 'trending'. #maestro
    #restinpeace
    #streetstyle

    @justintheroux

  • The New York Times Style

    Bill Cunningham captured the kooky, the stylish, the adventurous and everything in between.

    @NYTstyles

  • Lena Dunham

    Saw Bill out and about doing his thing for the first time when I was 7- I didn't know who he was but I knew he made everyone important stop and adjust. It was the exact same vibe when I saw him a month ago, fancy people suddenly unsure in the presence of this special eccentric. He was powerful but he was gentle and kind. He had vision and he will be missed. Drawing by @joanaavillez

    @lenadunham

  • Michael Kors

    There would be no street style without Bill Cunningham. Talent, taste and kindness in abundance!!! RIP Bill.

    @michaelkors

  • Caroline Herrera

    #BillCunningham capturing iconic moments of style.

    @houseofherrera

  • Carine Roitfeld

  • Menswear dog

    In loving tribute to Bill Cunningham, the OG street style spectator. Your presence, photographs and infectious smile will be missed immensely. Thank you for living your passion. 
    #BillCunningham

    @mensweardog

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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Features Editor at Stylist

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