by Carrie Kirk
One thing I am unashamed to own up to is the section of The New York Times I first pull out Sunday mornings. Say it with me: Sunday Styles. Where else can I get the very high-brow news about fashion, stars, modern love, and - my fave - Bill Cunningham's photos of stylish New Yorkers walking their version of the catwalk - the sidewalks of NYC.
If you haven't seen the poignant and graceful documentary about Bill, I urge you to seek out Bill Cunningham New York, a film by Richard Press. It shows how Bill has provided an entire visual history of the last fifty-some years of NY. It's been a couple of years since I watched this film so when I pulled up the trailer on my laptop, I found a great symmetry between Bill and current events with the trailer's background music featuring deceased Lou Reed playing "I'll be your mirror" with his group The Velvet Underground and Nico.
Bill Cunningham has never been about the celebrities but rather the fashion. He has said that the best fashion show is on the street - "always has been, always will be." With his familiar red Schwinn and soft blue button-down cardigan, he is an 80+ year old fixture in New York, every week chronicling fashion trends in On the Street and high society charity soirees in Evening Hours in the Times. Bill with his camera and eye is known as a cultural anthropologist - an observer who documents the many walks of costumery around him. I thought I would give Bill and New York a run for its money with a little documentation of the streets of Indianapolis, especially on a certain night where costumery knows no bounds - Halloween. Or, in the case of this stormy year, the evening of November 1st.
For two hours, I was Park Avenue's very own cultural anthropologist and my models did not disappoint. May I first comment on how comfortable children seem to be in front of the camera? Unlike yours truly who said her first curse word because a camera was pointed in her direction, these assorted kids lit up when I pointed the camera at them while their parents mostly thought I was a little strange to be taking a picture of their kids. Maybe it was due to the fact that everyone could be someone else at least for the two hours. It's liberating to drop one's own mask to put on another.
In the spirit of the Affordable Health Care Act (or as Fox News calls it, "ObamaCare"), there were doctors and nurses. There were many more who looked like they were in need of medical attention. One clever kid had a zipper on his bloody face with his Halloween cohort having a home-made concoction of red dyed toilet paper all over her cheeks and forehead, proudly announcing that she had done it herself. I saw a unicorn, two pre-teen female superheroes/best friends, a gorilla and his banana, and an older brother dressed as a Bobby taking his little brother to the Big House. If my boys had assumed those roles, the legal route would have taken a detour towards pure vigilantism.
Anna Wintour, the infamous Vogue editor and a fashion diva in her own right, has said that in NYC "we all get dressed for Bill." And even though I realize that the trick-or-treaters didn't dress for me, for that one night on our weather- mandated day-after-Halloween celebration, it felt like it. And I have a snapshot of that moment in time forever. Thank you.