One of today’s most acclaimed fashion photojournalists doesn’t focus only on runway models, celebrities or red carpets. Instead, 83-year-old Bill Cunningham roams the streets of Manhattan on a Schwinn bicycle, chronicling fashion trends for The New York Times.
Now, Mercyhurst University’s Institute for Arts & Culture (MIAC) and Department of Fashion Merchandising are inviting local photographers to “Be Bill Cunningham” and document the fashion scene in northwestern Pennsylvania. Selected photographs will be displayed at Mercyhurst on Feb. 8 when the school’s Maria J. Langer Film series screens Bill Cunningham New York, a charming documentary about Cunningham’s life and work.
Amy Weaver-Kaulis, who chairs the fashion merchandising department, says Cunningham’s work exemplifies what she calls the “trickle-up” theory of fashion adoption. She notes, “He doesn’t care who’s wearing the clothes. It’s all about the clothes themselves.” Fashion forecasters now look to his columns and online slide shows to see what people are wearing and designers look to him for inspiration for new looks.
Designer Oscar de la Renta has said, “More than anyone else in the city, he has the whole visual history of the last 40 to 50 years of New York.”
Entries in the photo competition will be accepted from Jan. 14 through Jan. 28. High-res jpgs can be e-mailed to email@example.com
, along with the name and contact details of the photographer. The photos can be taken anywhere, from the Mercyhurst campus to downtown night spots to nearby ski slopes, as long as they reflect interesting current styles.
Weaver-Kaulis, fashion merchandising faculty members Abbey Rowe and Jen Craven, MIAC Director Jamie Grady and Assistant Director Christine Olivier will judge the photos submitted and award a top prize that includes a professional print of the winning image, display on the MIAC website and $50 gift certificates to both The Limited and Isaac Baker Menswear.
The winning photo and other submissions will also be displayed on the third floor of Mercyhurst’s Old Main, where both MIAC and the Fashion Merchandising Department are headquartered. The public is invited to view the photos on Friday, Feb. 8, at 5:30 p.m. Bill Cunningham New York will be shown that day at 2:15 and 7:15 p.m. in Mercyhurst’s Taylor Little Theater. Tickets for the film are $6 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free for Mercyhurst students.
The contest is open to the public and all from the Erie community are encouraged to participate. For more information, check out the “Be Bill Cunningham Contest” event on the MIAC Facebook page (facebook.com/MIAandC), where you’ll find examples of Cunningham’s work as well as contest updates.