“Rare Bird “, “ Geriatric Starlet” or “Accidental Icon?”
Yes, it’s just Iris Apfel. Let’s add that she is “The World’s Oldest Living Teenager” and “Independent Thinker”, too. This lovely lady has no rules because she would only break them. She is sure that the fashion police will not put her in jail.
I’m not a pastel person!
Iris is easily-recognazible with her bold and eclectic style. Apfel’s fashion toys are oversized glasses, jewelry and layers of happy and bright colors. “I’m not a pastel person! Pastels make me nervous. I could never be like my mother because she never had a hair out of place! She got up in the morning and she looked like she just stepped out of a Chicago Coin band box. She was perfect all the time. And I’m not like that. Everybody would turn around to look at her but in a completely different way to me. My mother was much more disciplined in that fashion than I am. I just go with the flow” – says Iris.
Her formula of originality is made of high and low fashion, haute couture and flea market. That‘s why we are sure that there is only one like her on the Earth.
“I’m just as happy to wear bangles that cost me three dollars as I am to wear valuable pieces — and I like to mix high and low, putting things together to wear as the spirit moves me. When you try hard to have style, you look uncomfortable, like you’re wearing a costume, like the clothes are entering the room before you do. If you’re uptight, you won’t be able to carry off even a seemingly perfect outfit. If that’s happening, I say abandon the whole thing. It’s better to be happy than well dressed”.
From an early age she is obsessed with texture, color and pattern. Her grandmother from Brooklyn entertained her playing with fabric scraps.“She opened one bag, and then another, and what I saw made my eyes pop: a gigantic bunch of little fabric remnants in all sorts of colors and patterns — there were scraps of all kinds, of all shapes and sizes.”
This funny game became her business.
In 1950 with her husband Carl Apfel she opened international fabric manufacturing company and they provide fabrics for the White House, State Department, Metropolitan Museum of Art and was in touch in with celebrities as Greta Garbo, Jackie Kennedy, Harry Truman, Bill Clinton…Working at the White House, Apfel got the nickname “First Lady of Fabric” or “Our Lady of the Cloth”. According to her it was a relatively easy job actually, because everything had to be as close as humanly possible to the way it was.
For Apfel family USA was not too big for their dreams. They used to travel to Europe to get fabric they couldn’t find in the U.S. They specialized in fabric reproductions from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and had a showroom at 115 East 57th Street in Manhattan, New York.
“You have to feel style is in your DNA and it is something you really can’t learn. I always dressed for myself. I don’t care what anybody thinks. I’m not a rebel and I don’t do these things to shock anybody. Frankly, I don’t give a damn.”
Few years ago her husband passed away at the age of 100. Iris was lucky that she had the partner who celebrated her successes “His humor and generosity were legendary. We did almost everything together. His encouragement and unwavering support made this book possible. He pushed me into the limelight and then basked in my success. He got much more of a kick from the accolades I received”. Iris says Carl’s death is a reminder that mortality exists, but for now she doesn’t like to think about it.
She turned 100 years on August 29 !
Apfel is sure that people have to be original but not nutsy. Not to be blind trend follower who doesn’t know yourself. It sounds funny but her first job in beauty appeared when she was at the tender age of ninety. For her MAC developed a limited edition and she became the oldest living lady in cosmetic campaigns
“I never think about my age. Maybe that’s the ticket. I never think about it — it’s a passing thought. It’s just a number. … I’ve found that work is very healthy for me. I love what I do and I put my heart and soul into it.”
An amazing women with inspiring life!