Life Style

Gigi Hadid loves this NYC street style photographer

Johnny Cirillo is the first to admit that he doesn’t know anything about fashion. But like many native New Yorkers, he can spot style when he sees it. 

“It can be someone wearing a T-shirt and shorts, eating ice cream,” the 42-year-old photographer told The Post. “Fashion can be bought, but style you need to be born with — or develop over time.”

Dubbed the “people’s paparazzi,” Cirillo photographs the city’s most dazzlingly dressed denizens for his Instagram, Watching New York (@watchingnewyork).

He started the social media account as a personal tribute to the legendary NYC street style shutterbug Bill Cunningham in 2016. It now has 1.3 million followers, including famous model Gigi Hadid who has said his snaps “sparked joy” and “inspired” her.

“Watching New York: Street Style A to Z” is in stores now.

Hadid even penned the introduction to Cirillo’s new book, his first, “Watching New York: Street Style A to Z” (Abrams, out now).

“It’s refreshing to scroll through people I don’t know who are so clearly expressing themselves in their own way,” she wrote.

Cirillo said he doesn’t know Hadid personally, but they connected via direct message on Instagram and she said she would be “honored” to contribute to his book.

“She wrote the most beautiful thing,” he said. “I am so grateful to her.”

The glossy, celebratory tome collects Cirillo’s most sensational snaps over the past eight years, but it also is a love letter to the Big Apple.

“To me, now, every block, every street, every corner is something incredible to see,” he told The Post. “I look at it more as this magical little universe that’s been created by artists and I just find it very romantic and inspiring.”

Have a look.

The Seatbelt Artist

Courtesy of Johnny Cirillo

“I first met Dev the way I meet everyone, just walking down the street,” Cirillo said. “She was wearing something I had never seen before, and when I complimented it, she was like, ‘Oh, I made it myself.’” During the pandemic, Dev was living with her grandmother who had an old minivan she no longer used, so Dev cut all the seatbelts out and started making bags and belts out of them. “That’s where it all started,” said Cirillo. “Everything she wears she completely alters and makes her own, and that’s really cool.”

A Gaggle of Galentines

Courtesy of Johnny Cirillo

Cirillo was drawn to this trio of women hitting the town on Valentine’s Day — their coordinated pink outfits popping in the gray streets of Manhattan. “I can’t explain why, but that image was something that I thought beautiful enough that I wanted to capture it, freeze the moment, and look at again later.” After he approached the group of gal pals, they told him that they celebrated Valentine’s Day together every year, even though they now had husbands and kids. “In my mind, I dreamed up the scenario where they were all like 14-years-old, in a tree house, being like, ‘Let’s do Galentine’s Day forever!’” 

The Inventor

Courtesy of Johnny Cirillo

Cirillo first spotted the local designer Ari Serrano at a Tribeca Film Festival premiere. “He was wearing this thrifted old Louis Vuitton bag that he had turned into a jacket,” the photographer recalled. “You could wear it as a jacket, but you can take it off and zip into a big duffel bag.” Later, Cirillo saw Serrano in a Barbie pink ensemble with a matching “hookah helmet” — a candy-colored headpiece with tubes coming out the sides, inspired by the beer helmets most often seen on frat bros. “That’s just one of his many wacky, incredible inventions,” Cirillo said. 

The Dynamic Duo

Courtesy of Johnny Cirillo

The Bell Brothers — identical twins who direct and act in their own short films and whose energetic stylings compliment each other — are two of Cirillo’s favorite subjects. “I first ran into them on Bedford Avenue, in Williamsburg, and I noticed they both had Academy Award Oscars tattooed on their hands,” Cirillo said. The siblings told him it was their dream to win Best Actor and Best Supporting Actors prizes on the same night. “They enrich the city — they’re always smiling, always talking, happy, in good spirits.”

The Urban Cowboy

Courtesy of Johnny Cirillo

“I think I’ve taken 60 outfit photos of Darnell,” said Cirillo of the actor and stylist, who has become one of his greatest muses. “There’s a lot of people that have great style who stick to what works for them, but Darnell changes his look every season.” His favorite of Darnell’s ensembles, however, is this urban cowboy look, featuring a leather motorcycle jacket and fringed suede chaps. “He could not walk one block without somebody stopping him and either giving them a compliment or asking if they could take a photo,” Cirillo recalled. “He looked like a character from a Quentin Tarantino movie. You know, he just looks so awesome.”

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