The Amazing Iris Apfel

Looking at Iris Apfel you might think ‘grandma with a cool sense of fashion’.  She is a starlet of the older generation, but she hasn’t let her age make her dress in grandma style clothes.

In her younger years she studied at NYU and also attended art school at University of Wisconsin.  She worked for Women’s Wear Daily and for Elinor Johnson (an interior designer).

She married Carl Apfel in 1948 and 2 years later they launched a textile firm called Old World Weavers which they ran until 1992.

Iris took part in restoration projects, including work at the White House for the following presidents:

Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Clinton.

Above – Iris and Carl Apfel.

And the most interesting part of this mini biography is that Apfel was a visiting professor at University of Texas (Austin).  She was age 90.  That’s pretty old for a professor/lecturer.

She lectures about clothes and style.

The Guardian listed her as one of the best dressed over 50s in 2013.

(All of this info is from the very trusted source: Wikipedia – note the sarcasm in ‘very trusted’).

In the interview with Iris, she mentions that she doesn’t get ‘dressed up everyday’.  She claims that most of the time she is running around wearing jeans and only really dresses up if she is going out.  Also, the interesting thing is, she doesn’t call herself a fashionista:

I get really annoyed when people talk about me as a “fashionista.”

When asked about the apparent loss of individuality in style, this is what she says:

it’s much more obvious now, the way people wear uniforms. Maybe there are just more people walking around and so you notice, everything is very homogenized. I go out in New York and I think, boy, you can look at someone and pretty much determine their ZIP code. Everyone seems to want to conform. I wonder, are they all just button-pressers, on the Internet all day long? I don’t know. Look, being an individual takes effort. Most people are pretty lazy. And that’s OK! I mean, there are more important things than fashion. If it’s going to stress you out to have a sense of style, don’t do it. The important thing is to be comfortable so you can get on with your life. But I do feel—people miss a lot, if that’s how they approach style. They miss out on this whole creative experience.

She also mentions how she likes all eras of fashion, because she doesn’t want to be ‘buried’ in just one era.

Iris was also asked that if she was a young adult today, would she have studied fashion or become a stylist.

I don’t think so.  I never had a plan—I just fell into everything. Fashion, for me, it was just part of life. Very natural. I didn’t learn it from anybody, I just figured it out for myself and muddled through. That’s the way I do things—things just happen. I like it that way, not knowing exactly what’s next. There’s gotta be a little mystery in life, right?

Obviously Iris thinks outside the fashion square.  A lot of people do.  Look at Lady Gaga.  She thinks outside the box constantly and she is so well known for her wacky fashion sense.

Purple hair, don’t care.

I think everyone needs a bit of Iris in their life.  Colour, accessories, something slightly crazy about the way they dress.  A bit of individuality.  What I like about Iris is that she shows individuality in her clothing choices.  She doesn’t seem to care what people think of her clothes (as showen by the ‘fashion police’ quote).  Yeah, some people might do a double take and think ‘look at that Grandma…what on earth is she wearing?!?!’.  But, so what.

I am a believer of dressing to please yourself.  Iris shares my view:

Like she says, who cares what people think.  Dress for yourself and don’t always follow trends (although it doesn’t matter so much, because there are some pretty cool things trending at the moment).

Being different is cool.  Just look at Iris.

She doesn’t have any fashion rules.

Check out her interview here.


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