As much as I love Paris, my heart has always belonged to New York. And while I’ve been having little moments of quiet glee and deep connection, walking through the crooked streets and long avenues, it was the Bill Cunningham documentary that made me so happy to be in New York right now.
You probably know his On the Street column (and party pictures) in the Sunday Styles section. But the man himself is mesmerizing. He is goofy and sweet, sharp and singularly focused, and he restores your faith in people. He’s kind, a creative genius and an icon. There is absolutely no one like him in this world. (I’m so glad I stalked him in Galignani last fall! Strangely enough, I saw Grace Coddington when I went to see Jane Eyre a couple weeks ago. But that's another style obsession...)
Beyond making you fall for Bill, the movie is a love letter to New York: the creative energy, the crazy people, the history, the chutzpa, the fame and fabulousness. It made me so proud and excited to be here.
And yet it just so happens that I saw the movie a couple nights after hitting the town with Amee. We had a drink at Orient Express, popped into Pastis for kir royales, then found ourselves at Abe & Arthur surrounded by men—such a rarity in this city that teems with women—and ultimately wound up dancing at SL, where bottles of Cristal were delivered with sparklers and eight-foot tall women were gyrating on the booths. It was fun because, well, how often do you swig Cristal straight from the bottle and dance with a bunch of amped-up traders? But it was also soulless, uninspiring and empty. It just seems like there are no more unique characters, no only-in-New-York clubs, no creative spirit. The Bill Cunningham doc showed the yesteryears of New York as thrilling and unique. You never knew what you were going to get. The New York of today is Duane Reade, Citibank and bottle service.
What can we do to keep New York as charming and mysterious as Bill Cunningham himself?