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What do the Louis Vuitton Handbag, a Black and White Striped Dress, and a Hermes Birkin Canvas Tote Have in Common?

Updated on November 10, 2012
"We all get dressed for Bill," Vogue Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour.
"We all get dressed for Bill," Vogue Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour. | Source

The Louis Vuitton handbag, the black and white dress and the Hermes Birkin canvas tote have all been captured by the lens of William Cunningham as hot fashion pieces on the streets of Manhattan this season. Louis, Hermes and William who? That is the question you might ask if you are not in tune with the New York fashion scene. If you are in tune with that scene, then you already know.

William Cunningham is New York Times’ fashion photographer and cultural anthropologist. Born in 1928, Bill Cunningham has been photographing street fashion in Manhattan for 40 or 50 years. After he dropped out of Harvard and served a tour in the US Army, Bill Cunningham became a fashion journalist. Bill’s photographs are displayed in his weekly New York Times narrated slideshow, “On the Street.”

Bill Cunningham New York is an award winning documentary film that was released in theatres March 2011. The film follows Bill on his Schwinn bike as he works on the streets of New York capturing fashion trends. The film follows Bill to his office as he works with his film and the layout of his photographs. The film continues home with Bill to his Carnegie Hall studio.


In his “On the Street: Voila” slideshow, Bill notes a trend in Louis Vuitton handbags this season. Not only has the winter brown check Louis Vuitton handbag been replaced by a lighter ivory and beige check, but the standard chalk white summer purse has been updated to a less flashy and more subdued ivory or eggshell.

An authentic Louis Vuitton handbag can be purchased online at the Louis Vuitton official website, or at higher end department stores such as Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue. Prices can range from $700 to several thousand dollars.

Some people collect Louis Vuitton handbags and luggage and pay to have their pieces professionally repaired when they show signs of wear or are damaged. Paul Pluta, author of “Collecting Louis Vuitton,” has a website dedicated to his passion for all things Louis Vuitton and how to care for Louis Vuitton products.

If you conscientiously object to the Louis Vuitton family involvement with Nazi Germany during WWII or can’t afford an authentic Louis Vuitton, a replica can be found at Purse Valley for $275. A used Louis Vuitton can be found in classified ads and on ebay, but it is important to know how to distinguish between an authentic Louis Vuitton and a look alike. Otherwise, you might unknowingly pay top dollar for a replica. Authentic Louis Vuitton would never be sold by a street vendor.

The other trend featured in the Voila slideshow, is the photo image of a Birkin bag placed onto a canvas shopping tote. These can be purchased at a number of online sites for $35 by googling “Hermes Birkin bag on canvas.” Of course there is now a lawsuit pending by Hermes Birkin for infringement of property rights for the famed Birkin bag. The bags may be more difficult to find now.

In his “On the Street: Lining Up” slideshow, Bill Cunningham shows how the black and white striped dress is a star in summer fashion this year. Other graphic stripes are suggested for those of us who are larger than size 6 and who know better than to sport horizontal stripes. For that not so fashion savvy reader, horizontal stripes make a figure appear broader than it is. Alternatives might be a narrow, vertical stripe or solid black across the hips with stripes elsewhere in the piece.

Bill Cunningham made a career out of taking unexpected photographs of fashion worn on the streets of Manhattan by passersby, celebrities and socialites. A group of his impromptu photos was first published in 1978. This was an historical event in some respects as it was the first time photos of celebrities were published without permission. Bill Cunningham is highly esteemed by many of his celebrity subjects, and is often included in events that most members of the media are not. Bill Cunningham is 83 years old and still doing what he loves to do.


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    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 5 years ago

      Thank you LABrashear:) I know. LB, HB and BC, right? Bill Cunningham is an interesting character.

    • LABrashear profile image

      LABrashear 5 years ago from My Perfect Place, USA

      Wonderful introduction to an interesting person...and it doesn't hurt that you mentioned LV! Voted up!

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      Thanks Vellur:) Hard to imagine life without knowing Bill Cunningham! He is an interesting character.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 6 years ago from Dubai

      Interesting hub. Now I know about Bill Cunningham.Well presented. Enjoyed reading. Voted up.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      Thanks Gail.... for reading and commenting, of course; and for inspiring an idea - to add a poll re whether or not you've ever heard of them!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Interesting hub. I'm one who never heard of him, but liked your writing style in this piece and the first paragraph that led into it which really drew me in.

      Voted up and interesting.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      thanks billyaustindillon; yep. he has been true to himself and has lived with genuine integrity. i like his humble living space that is shown in the video. good to see you billy:)

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 6 years ago

      Kim great commentary on an artist who really enjoys his work - find a passion and follow it they say and he did!

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      Thank you, Ethel. I think he's interesting. He just kind of carved his own niche in life, doing what he loves.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Great hub. Never heard of this guy. I liked the way you led into the Hub :)