News / Fashion

Fashion photography legend Bill Cunningham wrote a secret memoir


The legendary fashion photographer Bill Cunningham had written a secret memoir before he passed away in 2016, which will be published in September of this year. The manuscript, which was discovered posthumously, chronicles Bill’s life from a cross-dressing young boy to life as a soldier in the Korean War to his first break in journalism. The book is titled Fashion Climbing pointing to his early years moving up in the fashion industry.

Bill Cunningham is best known for his regular column On The Street in The New York Times, which included photographs of stylish New Yorkers and ran regularly from 1989 to 2016. He was the first photographer and fashion critic to champion Azzedine Alaïa and Jean Paul Gaultier in the American press. Cunningham was also central to The New York Times’ reportage of the gay community; he photographed and raised funds for Fire Island Pines, a New York area with strong links to the gay community, and covered various events like Aids benefits and Pride parades.

Christopher Richards, an editor at Penguin Press who received the manuscript in an auction, told The New York Times: “It seems so unexpected. He really didn’t divulge anything about his life to his friends and his colleagues. He was so private. I think it was a shock.” The newspaper also calls Fashion Climbing a “major archaeological revelation” as it is filled with over 40 years of anecdotes and insights into the fashion industry. A finished manuscript was discovered alongside annotated parts, which indicates that Cunningham spent time revising the text.

Fashion Climbing will be published by Penguin Press in September 2018.