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Bill Cunningham Facades photograph collection

Call Number

PR 307


circa 1970s, inclusive


Cunningham, Bill, 1929-2016


0.8 Linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials

This collection is primarily visual. Any text is likely to be in English.


Photographs by famed New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham of his friend, neighbor and fellow photographer Editta Sherman posing in period costumes in front of NYC buildings matching the same era as her clothing. These photographs were published in the 1978 book Facades.

Biographical / Historical

William J. "Bill" Cunningham (born March 13, 1929) is an American fashion photographer for the New York Times, known for his candid and street photography. A Harvard dropout and Army veteran, he was a milliner and fashion photographer before he began photographing passers-by on the streets in 1978. He was a pioneer in focusing on fashion as the public wears it, not as presented by models, editors, stylists and fashion photographers. His photographs are featured in two long-running and hugely popular weekly columns in the Times: "On the Street," in which he identifies fashion trends as he spots them emerging on the street; and "Evening Hours," his ongoing coverage of the city's charity galas and society parties.

In 1968, 20 years after his arrival in New York City, and before he made his name chronicling fashion and society in pictures for the New York Times, Bill Cunningham began another fashion project, a body of work that became a 1978 book, "Facades." The book was a collaboration with his friend, fellow photographer and neighbor at Carnegie Hall Studios, Editta Sherman (aka "The Duchess of Carnegie Hall"), who was, like Cunningham, a devoted collector of vintage clothing. On weekends, Cunningham photographed her on the streets of New York wearing ensembles put together from their collections. Each image matches clothing with architecture that exemplifies the period, ranging from the late 18th century to the 1950s. This collection consists of the 91 gelatin silver prints from the series, which Cunningham donated to the New-York Historical Society when the book was completed.


Photographs are arranged in chronological order of the date of the costumes and buildings depicted.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of 91 photographs by Cunningham of his friend, neighbor and fellow photographer Editta Sherman posing in period outfits in front of buildings of the same era as her clothing. Cunningham and Sherman scoured antique shops, street fairs and auctions for period clothing and conducted painstaking research to identify appropriate matching buildings. The project took eight years to complete and culminated in a 1977 exhibition at N-YHS and other venues, as well as the 1978 book Facades, also held by N-YHS.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Conditions Governing Use

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit:

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: Bill Cunningham Facades Photograph Collection, PR 307, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Location of Materials

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Bill Cunningham, 1976.

Related Materials

The library also holds a copy of the 1978 book Facades, call number Print Room Ref NA 2840.C97.

Collection processed by

Susan Kriete

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 15:49:51 -0400.
Language: Description is in English


New-York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024