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Sunday, 13 September 2015

My kind of fashion icon – the wonderful Iris Apfel

Imagine a teenager's enthusiasm for putting an outfit together, the bargaining skills of a Moroccan carpet seller, combined with delicious personal style and a collection of costume jewellery started more than eighty years ago. This is Iris Apfel.

I can't remember when I first heard about Iris – it was probably around the time her jewellery collection filled a last-minute gap in the exhibition schedule at the Metropolitan Museum in New York – but I've been keeping an eye out for her ever since. 

Iris has been gaining popularity in recent years, having been the face of campaigns for Kate Spade and jewellery designer Alexis Bittar, as well as appearing on countless magazine covers – she now calls herself the "geriatric starlet" – but a recent documentary really gives you a peek inside her life and wardrobe. I popped along to see it on Monday.
The Iris movie is such a sweet celebration of one woman's life-long love affair with textiles, costume and the thrill of the find.

For years Iris was an interior designer and ran the company Old World Weavers with her husband Carl, who sadly passed away last month. Their most well-known commission was the ongoing work they did for the White House, designing interiors for no less than nine US presidents.

Iris has the most colourful, joyful style and it reminded how much I used to love planning and putting outfits together which has just gone by the wayside as I've gotten older. 

I don't have Iris' massive collection (which was slightly terrifying in its scale), but part of the reason I think the joy has gone out of dressing for me, is that I've taken such a scattergun approach to buying things over recent years and you end up with a whole lot of clothes but not a lot that hangs together.
Iris goes against the grain in so many ways, especially in our youth-obsessed culture. She's 94 for goodness sake, has had grey hair forever, thinks plastic surgery is awful and when asked why she never comments on what others are wearing declared "Who am I to judge – it's better to be happy than well dressed".

What a fabulous woman!

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