Iris Apfel: Fashion Maven Extraordinaire

The divine Iris Apfel

Her endless creative fashion inspirations leave me speechless. Why? Because she is a powerful inventive woman that has not defined her style by others but by her personal conviction to wear what gives her joy in both fashion and home décor. Making bold choices in her eclectic clothing combinations and exotic baubles, this 90-year-old nonagenarian is deservedly defined as a fashion icon. I am a fan of street style, and Iris is the queen. With tasteful eccentricity, she combines flea market finds with tribal artifacts and couture.

What sets her apart from others?

You might recognize her by her signature oversized round glasses and bold fashion combinations, from clothing to accessories. For decades, she has scoured the world’s flea markets and boutiques to glean one-of-a-kind items. She only buys things she loves and brings them home until the right distinctive combinations come together, mixing textures, patterns and colors in awe-inspiring solutions.

In the 40s, she may have been the first to bring jeans to the female fashion scene.  When denim was worn only by men working in industrial or field jobs, Iris wanted a pair and convinced the owner of a Wisconsin Army and Navy store to order her a pair of boy-sized jeans. She wore them with her large hoop earrings and a turban. She still prefers men’s jeans to women’s, and today tries not to pay more than $15 for a pair.

She achieved her cult-like status when her clothes were exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Costume Institute in 2005 and later in 2009-2010 at the Peabody Essex Museum. The exhibit, Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel captured the attention of all that attended the show with over 80 ensembles from her personal collection, things that she has worn and loved.

Regarding accessories

“For me the key to personal style lies in accessories. My friends tell me that my oversized glasses and my pairs of bracelets have become my unwritten signature. I have amassed an enormous ‘collection’ of bags, belts, bangles and beads without which I would be lost. One can change the entire look of an outfit by substituting one accessory for another. I love objects from different worlds, different eras, combined my way. Never uptight, achieving – hopefully – a kind of throwaway chic.”

Interior designer by trade

She and her husband, Carl, co-founded a well-known textile design company, Old World Weavers, and today is an authority on antique textile reproductions. She and Carl were called to restore the fabrics in the White House for presidents who included Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton.

Where is Iris today? At the age of 90, she continues her fashion ideas with flair and verve, continuing to shake the fashion world with her always unexpected but fabulous fashion combinations.  She designs accessories for HSN. She continues to be an icon for ageless beauty and confidence. In January 2012, Iris was the face for a new MAC cosmetics line, defying the much younger target market.






There is no stopping Iris…

Who is your fashion inspiration?

What is your personal style?

What are your favorite accessories?

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