Cover Photo: photograph of Iris Apfel by Daniela Federica, courtesy of Blue Illusion. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; © 2018 by Iris Apfel.
If you haven’t heard of who Iris is by now, then you must not browse the internet very often, but I’m sure most (if not all) fashionistas that are reading this, know exactly who I’m talking about.
The Woman, The Legend, The Myth
Iris Apfel is a fashion icon, a model, and both an interior and clothing designer. She was the face for MAC’s 2011 new makeup line and had her interior designs featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 2005. And the best part? She is 96 years young!
Yes, she is the oldest makeup model to ever model makeup. The woman has better style than most fashion models nowadays. One of her ‘trademarks’ is the over-sized glasses that she constantly wears and overall oversized accessories. She is best known for using very bold, bright colors and she combines some of the best textiles to create staggering outfits.
Iris and her husband Carl (whom she married in 1948) had their own textile firm “Old World Weavers”, from 1950 till 1992. They would travel the world together and find different types of textiles from all types of different countries and bring them back to the US.
Their business really got booming when word of mouth led them to the White House. She and her husband took part in several design restoration projects – spanning across 9 presidents (from Truman to Clinton). She even got the nickname “First Lady of Textiles”.
She has done a lot of commercial campaigns (all of which were successful) – and this is mostly from where she got her mainstream exposure from. Some of the campaigns she has done include:
- MAC Winter 2011 Collection
- TV Commercial for DS 3 (French car brand) in 2016
- She was the Face for Blue Illusion (Australian brand) in 2016
- The woman even got her own Barbie #Jealous
You might notice in the above picture that Barbie is holding a book. That’s Iris’s book dubbed “Accidental Icon” in which she explains with great detail her rise to fame. It is filled with adventure, knowledge and overall great advice. I strongly recommend reading it, because you never know, you might be the next ‘Accidental Icon’.
“When you don’t dress like everyone else, you don’t have to think like everyone else.”
Iris, being the odd cake she is, has a lot of advice when it comes to fashion – and we are all so grateful she is willing to share this avant-garde knowledge with us mortals.
When it comes to buying new clothing, Iris recommends that you “Leave no stone unturned”. While she was traveling for work, she visited a lot of countries with different cultures and dress codes. That is where she got most of her unique outfits in her wardrobe from. Some of her clothes are even from antique shops – which means that nothing is off the table. But as the Idol said herself “There were a number of my own things that I’ve collected over the years, so it’s an amalgamation. But it’s a long, long collection from all over the place.”
She encourages people to buy things that they find interesting, as you never know when it might come in useful. “So whenever I saw unusual things I bought them—in all kinds of crazy places.”
If you haven’t noticed by now, Iris is all about standing out and being true to yourself. But to do so, she says – your clothing and attire need to make a statement. They need to speak who you are and become a part of you.
As I mentioned above, one of her key features is her oversized glasses and her “Very, very, bright, bright, bright red.” lipstick. She even revealed a small secret – “My husband and I used the same scent, it’s very nice but not easy to find. We used to buy it in Paris, but now you can get it in the States. It’s called Yagatan [cologne].”
- Break the Norm
Being part of the norm can be restrictive, you have to follow certain rules and dress a certain way. Well, to really make your style shine, Iris says “It’s very eclectic—everything I like, I put together. I don’t like the norm. I think there’s a lot of wonderful decorating around, but it all looks the same.”
- Dressing ‘your’ Age
Aghh, the sensitive topic of age. Well, miss Iris has quite a lot to say on the topic. As she said, “I think if a woman has her own style and knows who she is, she doesn’t have to dress for being 60 or 20 or 90,”. And I have to totally agree with her, but as Billy Mays used to say “But wait, there’s more!”.
“I mean, there are just some certain things that older women shouldn’t do – older women shouldn’t show excess flesh. They should wear sleeves. They shouldn’t wear miniskirts. They shouldn’t wear very high heels. They shouldn’t wear too much makeup. They shouldn’t have long, flowing hair. Things like that which are just common sense.”
But Iris wouldn’t be Iris if she judged. She added that “Well, it’s not my place to stop them – You’re asking me my opinion. If they want to show it off, be my guest. I want you to be happy.”
“It’s better to be happy than well dressed.”
– Iris Apfel –