I was walking up Fifth Ave, crossing 57th Street, when a twinkling, sprightly little man began snapping pictures. I was headed to the offices of Hall and Oates to deliver painted jackets for the band to wear in their new video Your Imagination. I was wearing my Black and White Zig-Zag Jacket. The man smiled and tipped his hat and was gone.
The next day this picture was published in Women's Wear Daily. By the end of the week Bill Cunningham, the wonderful street fashion photographer who took the picture, introduced me to Annie Flanders, the founder of Details, who published the picture.
Bill then sent me with a letter of introduction to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Diana Vreeland and her minions poured over my portfolio.
They selected three items for their collection and I presented them with an invoice. Astonished, they explained to me that living artists and designers should be honored to have their work accepted into the museum; that I was lucky to have my work taken into the permanent collection; and who did I think I was. I explained that without people like me who made interesting things there wouldn't be a museum full of interesting things. We finally negotiated a deal where they would buy one piece and I would donate two others. The invoice for the one sold piece remains outstanding to this day.
The People Project, photographing people plucked right off the street, was partially inspired by Bill Cunningham's wonderful spirit and his pictures taken on the streets of New York.