Bill Cunningham's Secret Memoir
21 April 2018

Bill Cunningham’s Secret Memoir

The OG style photographer, the late Bill Cunningham, kept a secret memoir documenting the early years of his career. In his tell-all memoir entitled Fashion Climbing, Cunningham tells us about his Catholic upbringing, childhood (which included wearing his sister’s dresses), his service in the Korean War, and his move to New York. He also dabbled in millinery, under “William J.” (which stands for William John Cunningham, his birth name), and then proceeded on to become a journalist, before becoming a photojournalist of sorts, that dealt specifically with fashion. He was the original street style photographer, before the term “street style” was even coined, or emerged, in popular fashion lexicon. Instantly recognisable in his French sanitation worker’s blue jacket and khakis, his memoir will be published in September this year.

Here’s an excerpt from the memoir:

There I was, 4 years old, decked out in my sister’s prettiest dress. Women’s clothes were always much more stimulating to my imagination. That summer day, in 1933, as my back was pinned to the dining room wall, my eyes spattering tears all over the pink organdy full-skirted dress, my mother beat the hell out of me, and threatened every bone in my uninhibited body if I wore girls’ clothes again.


Given my penchant for fashion books and fashion autobiographies and biographies, I certainly can’t wait to get my hands on this one, especially after watching the Bill Cunningham New York documentary.


Image via Getty