June 12th, 2011 | posted by Liza Zawadzka | Posted in Features Profiles
In a year filled with inspired social and fashion events, the Bill Cunningham movie is a highlight. I admit that when I reviewed it, I was a bit high from the dinner I had at Cava – the avocado brushetta with caviar was so good I had to stop myself from moaning and rolling around on the floor. (Thank-you Chef Penfold!). Still, there is something magical about cinematically stalking a person dedicated to their art to the exclusion of all else.
A Harvard dropout, Cunningham began photographing street style for the New York Times in 1978. Recognized world wide as the alpha eye for trend spotting, he is referred to by one Parisian runway henchman as “the most important person on the planet”. Paradoxically, he shuns all luxury and glamour, living a monastic life in a Spartan apartment and appropriating the uniform of Parisian street sweepers and garbage men for his own. The authenticity of his humility is jaw-dropping.
In one scene, Catherine Deneuve emerges from her limo, while the paparazzi clamor in a lightning storm of flashes. Cunningham walks away, because she wasn’t wearing anything interesting. And that’s the point. That’s the point of fashion, of trends, Toronto Street Fashion – celebrating all that is fun, fabulous, and courageous. To paraphrase Cunningham, fashion is the armour we wear that allows us to survive what is bleak, boring and oppressive in the world. People in this city who are mavericks of style, Rolyn Chambers, Louie Manzo, and Sarah Magwood for example, not only have the creativity to create amazing outfits, they have the courage to wear them.
I admit there are times when I am wearied by the army of Lululemon pants, the panty-skimming skirts worn with nude stockings and heels, and still (STILL???) saggy-assed jeans and baseball caps. Summer is here Toronto – let’s take a pledge to make our outfits worthy of a roll of Kodachrome. You’ll know you’re trying when you hear a thrilled voice say – I’m from Toronto Street Fashion – mind if I take your picture? No-one can be Bill Cunningham, but anyone can live with their eyes open.