Iris Apfel has been known among the interior design and fashion world for countless years, but it wasn’t until 2005 that she became the “geriatric starlet” that captured the world’s attention.
Fashion icons become iconic by expressing their individuality through fashion. No one expresses themselves more boldly, colorfully, or humorously than Iris. With a natural eye for colors, she mixes bright hues effortlessly. She is never afraid to mix textures and patterns. She will stack bracelets and necklaces until there is no more room; finishing it all off with her round thick framed glasses.
After an exhibition had been cancelled, Harold Koda, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, had the brilliant idea of contacting Iris and asking to display her elaborate collection of vintage costume jewelry and designer clothes. The exhibit was styled by Iris herself, and unlike any of it predecessors. Virtually overnight she became a fashion sensation.
There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s all about self-expression and, above all, attitude.
Born Iris Barrel in New York, she is the only child of Samuel and Sadye Barrel. Iris studied art history at New York University, and continued her education in art at the University of Wisconsin. In 1948, she married Carl Apfel and they later launched the textile firm Old World Weavers. Her career as an interior designer flourished resulting in an in-demand service all over the world as well as many White House restorations beginning with the Kennedys. Iris still consults and lectures at the University of Texas and collaborates on other projects in the fashion and interior design industries.
In 2015 a documentary on her life was released called Iris, directed by the late Albert Maysles.