Tuesday, July 11, 2006

WINDOW DISPLAYS AS ART INSTALLATIONS

If you walk the streets of Manhattan often enough, chances are you’ll run into Bill Cunningham with his camera. And if you’re a fashionable female (regardless of your age) with a unique sense of style, he might just snap your picture to be published in the next morning’s Style section of The New York Times.

Always a true gentleman, he has been the Times’ street photographer for quite some time now. During Fashion Week, you will find him more often outside instead of inside the giant white tents at Bryant Park taking pictures of glamorous women who attend Seventh Avenue’s premier runway shows.

On his recent New York Times’ feature, Show and Tell, Bill proclaims the Fifth Avenue store windows of Bergdorf Goodman and Saks are a new kind of art gallery, with constantly changing installations. And that aspect of visual merchandising had become a form of theater dating back from the early 1900's. However, he goes on to say, "like any other art form, store windows have had their ups and downs — slumping during the Depression, revived in the late 30's." It supposedly fell again in the late 70's, during a New York recession when a number of department stores closed and the high rate of street crime discouraged nighttime strolls. And then came the 1980s when many promising display artists succumbed to AIDS.

For this article, Bill Cunningham showcased a collection of his photographs of recent window displays created by today’s leading artists at Bergdorf and Saks (e.g., Linda Fargo, David Hoey, and Tim Wisgerhof) but his question remains unanswered: Why the Council of Fashion Designers of America does not recognize these exceptional talents at its annual awards?


photo credit: Bill Cunningham/The New York Times

posted by Señor Enrique at 10:06 AM


10 Comments:

Anonymous Major Tom said...

Bill Cunningham has a fairly recognizable name, even to me who is not really deep into fashion and photography; but I guess, he is that good that I must have heard or read about him before, once or twice maybe.

The power of photography or visuals is so useful in the merchandising world since a good picture on your display or a good photograph for your printed ads often determines if buyers are wont to patronize your product or not. An uncle had once had this big book of adverstisement that an aunt has sent from America and it was one of the first books that I have opened when I was a small child and boy how I remember that big book since it contains a lot of good photo ads, especially of known products in America. Until now, it does make me realize how successful American products like Coca-Cola, Crest and McDonalds have benefitted enormously from good photography and visual designs. Maybe, our local industries should realize this aspect on marketing in order that their products could be truly world-class. I believe, Filipino products can be well-patronized abroad if only we have this marketing savvy.

July 11, 2006 2:16 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I agree with you, Major Tom. And we do have the local talent to pull it off.

I once had the opportunity to sit in on a photo shoot for a print ad. My goodness, it was a huge production -- complete with a production staff, a lighting specialist, and stylist -- just to shoot a tabletop photo of an electronic gadget. The entire project cost a lot of money.

As for Bill Cunningham, I called him a true gentleman because on a couple of occassion I saw him shoot some pictures of the ladies on the streets of New York, he would always politely approach them and ask for their permission first.

And when I got into taking my camera along with me to clubs, I applied what I learned from Bill Cunningham and would always ask for peoples' permission first. Almost always, they said yes, including Ric Ocasek (frontman for The Cars) who was notorious for not allowing anyone to shoot his pic while hanging out at clubs.

July 11, 2006 8:29 PM  

Blogger NeiLDC said...

Im sorry to say that i dont even heard the name of Billy Cunningham but then, I do also take street photos. Although im not a professional photograpgher i love taking photos. Right now here in Madrid we do have this called GRAN VIA. like manhattan in NYC, there you can find fashion and clothings stores with a big displays and billboards.. so each one of us must appreciate whats outside us. and it depends on the people who on to the subject!

July 12, 2006 12:18 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Bill Cunningham is a very unassuming man, Neil. For many years, The New York Times would always just print his photos with a brief caption. Now, much to my pleasant surprise, he has become one of the paper's Style features writer.

I would have never become aware of him had it not for these fashion industry women I used to know in NYC.

I enjoy all those photos that you post on your site, Neil. And I'm sure Gran Via is just as pretty and exciting a town as Manhattan.

July 12, 2006 5:41 AM  

Blogger KJS said...

I love reading descriptions of anything Manhattan, especially since New York City will be my home in less than a month. And I appreciate the writing in your blogs - descriptive, well-composed and just good.

July 12, 2006 10:07 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Many thanks for your visit and comment, KJS!

And good luck with your move to New York City -- you are, indeed, bound for much delight.

I hope you will post many entries about your Manhattan adventures. Other than The New York Times, I shall now count on you to keep me abreast with some of the city's happenings :)

I will also ask you qustions to see if some of my favorite places are still there, ok? Thanks!

July 12, 2006 10:30 AM  

Anonymous ia said...

I like to echo KJS's thoughts as well. Enjoyed browsing your posts on the front page. I've come back here a number of times too. :)

I'm not particularly enamored by NY but I guess I envy how there are lots more store windows to enjoy there. The displays, too, of course. I kind of enjoy seeing displays by Rustan's during Christmastime. Perhaps it's something my Mom had unconsciously influenced.

July 13, 2006 2:27 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Many thanks, IA.

Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy NY as much, but that city certainly has lots of stores with great windows. Bill Cuningham didn't even mention Barneys, as well as a host of downtown stores with truly awesome avant-garde displays.

I've also checked out your blog site and it seems very interesting; lots to learn from. I will be a regular visitor from now on..

July 13, 2006 7:11 AM  

Anonymous ia said...

I've never been there, that's why I've never gained attachment to NY, but I know people who are simply in love with the culture. Either way, it's intriguing, but I can't relate fully. :P

As for Qwerky, glad you like it! (I'm stalking this place as well.)

July 14, 2006 12:47 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I once dabbled in programming, IA, only to discover I lacked the discipline for it; much to my dismay. It truly demands focus, patience and lots of hard work. Be that as it may, I still enjoy visiting sites such as yours because I remain curious about recent trends and innovations in that field.

I don't condone brain drain, but I am one of those who encourage our young folks to travel and the best way to do it, among other things, is through work-study programs. And if ever you do go that route, consider NYC, because it is indeed an exciting mecca, especially for intelligent young people like you. BTW, NYC has its very own Silicon Valley-like community!

July 14, 2006 5:43 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.

 
 

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