In 1968, Bill Cunningham embarked on an ambitious eight-year project: He collected over 500 vintage outfits and photographed them on models in more than 1,800 historic New York City locations. This Friday, the resulting series — entitled Facades — will go on view at the New-York Historical Society. The photo essay provides a window into the veteran Times photographer’s early work — a time before he became known for his street-style pictures and blue painter’s smock.
The pictures in Facades juxtapose models in period costumes against classic New York landmarks, from the Guggenheim to Grand Central Terminal, simultaneously recalling the city’s rich architectural history while evoking the municipal financial crisis and uncertainty about the city’s future that marred New York in the early ‘70s. From the image of Cunningham’s muse and fellow photographer Editta Sherman wearing a Victorian gown in a graffiti-covered subway car to a timeless shot of a woman in front of the Gothic Bridge in Central Park, our slideshow provides a first look at the exhibition.