Words by Mia Riley 
imageThink of how much the fashion industry has changed over the past 40 years, every different trend, every different icon and every new and old designer. People have come and gone in the industry in the past 4 decades but one man always remained a constant; Bill Cunningham.

imageBill Cunningham was an unlikely pioneer in fashion, he evolved and defined street style and trends to how we know them today. If you’ve ever had the chance to watch his documentary ‘Bill Cunningham New York’ you’ll know he was possibly the most down to earth, lovable and loyal man in the fashion industry. A creature of habit Cunningham, would hop on his bike everyday with his camera and blue overalls, khaki trousers and black trainers and snap the unknowingly stylish people of New York City.
For me personally what was so moving about Cunningham was that he did everything for the love of it. It was never about, fame or money. For Bill Cunningham it was about beauty and clothes, he was the eyes of the fashion world. There is this wonderful paragraph from an article he wrote in 2002 where he sums himself up perfectly. “I started photographing people on the street during World War II. I used a little box Brownie. Nothing too expensive. The problem is I’m not a good photographer. To be perfectly honest, I’m too shy. Not aggressive enough. Well, I’m not aggressive at all. I just loved to see wonderfully dressed women, and I still do. That’s all there is to it.”

Cunningham was the sear of trends, his camera lenses and eyes were invaluable and priceless. He knew it himself often saying “You see, if you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do, kid.” Showing that the liberty and freedom of your art was more important than any price.

imageWhen the news broke of Cunningham’s sad passing, the entire fashion and journalism community all mourned his loss, because at the end of the day he was an irreplaceable man that had an incredible ability to forecast trends simply by observing people. Sadness and gloom jolted through all forms of social media as news slowly spread of the 87 year old photography guru’s death. With Frank Rich saying “Bill Cunningham was as delightful and fascinating a person and colleague as he was as artist. An independent mind, big heart, no airs.” And Josh Groban, “This is so sad. Please watch Bill Cunningham New York, such beautiful documentary about this sweet brilliant guy“

He’s left a void in the industry that I suspect will never be filled. They really broke the mould with him. Rest in Peace The Godfather of Street style. It’s somehow fitting for the last word on a Fashion Legend to come from Fashion Legend, Ms Suzy Menkes who said of Bill, “the greatest street photographer fashion has ever had, has laid down his camera for ever. He has died in New York at age 87. His bicycle is stilled. He won’t be coming up to me any more saying ‘Hello child’ in his gravelly voice. I shall miss him so. As will the fashion world which has lost an honest and true reporter worthy of the New York Times where his work was cherished. May he rest in peace – but his incomparable record of changing styles last for ever.”

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Liberty – There aren’t many other stores that can boast shopping in such a beautiful environment

Many things are described as a British institution, everything from Bruce Forsyth to Eton Mess have at some time been cited as one. However one such institution that is undoubtably British through and through, as the afternoon teas they serve in their café is, Liberty. Nonetheless, dear reader, there is something distinctly Un-British at the heart of its corridors of power…..

Since, joining as buying director, from luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman, Ed Burstell was promoted to Managing Director in June 2010 and is now responsible for overseeing all buying functions and marketing at Liberty. The larger then life and surprisingly funny New Yorker, has blown off all trace of cobwebs from the traditional department store and transported Liberty well and truly into the 21st Century and placed it back on the international fashion map as a shopping destination for not only the local consumer but the cosmopolitan tourist to boot. Burstell, has been highly instrumental in the recent launch of the new Liberty Westfield Stratford City store, just in time for the all important Olympics. In this period Liberty has collaborated with such brands as Nike, Barbour & even the international value retailer Target, taking full advantage of the legendary floral print. There is no possible doubt that Burstell has taken Britain to his heart, but at the same time it’s very clear the UK and Liberty have adopted Ed too. Now a man this busy you would have thought wouldn’t have time for interviews and yes he doesn’t but when Clothes-make-the-man.com call you, its hard to say to no;

Ed Burstell – The Managing Director of Liberty

What piece of style advise do you live by ?

Never dress or admit your age or you’ll become your age.

What’s your favourite piece of clothing ?

My Miguel Adrover cashmere column top coat – years before Twilight or True Blood…

Who is your style icon ? Why ?

Steve McQueen. Hot, in absolutely anything.

What piece of clothing should everyman have in his wardrobe ?

A hoodie. Cotton for the kids and cashmere for the rest of us.

If you could have invented anything what would it be ?

The airplane or space ship. The mystery of flight still amazes.

How did you get into the industry, what was your big break ?

After my gap year of living on the beach in Florida and doing what one does when living on a beach in Florida I found myself back in New York with no money and no job.

It was November and I went to Macy’s. They had two jobs – Santaland or a fragrance sprayer. I chose sprayer and worked my way up from the very bottom.

If you had one day to live what would be your biggest regret ?

That I had given up any vices.

 

What do you have to do after this conversation ?

Boring meeting with a supplier.

What would you like to be doing after this conversation ?

Pimms o’clock with a cigarette

If you could only wear one brand/Designer for the rest of your life who would it be ? Why ?

Rick Owens, for his consistent original vision over time.

Who would do you ideal diner guest and why ?

Grace Jones, 64 and still kicking ass.

www.Liberty.co.uk