The Birth of a Style Icon: Iris Apfel on the Big Screen

The Birth of a Style Icon: Iris Apfel on the Big Screen

Iris Apfel has never minced her words. She’s certainly unlikely to start doing so now, aged 93. The new film about her life makes that quite clear – which was incidentally the last work by documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles, who passed away aged 89 shortly before the film was released. There was definitely enough to say about Apfel’s career, though it only really got started 13 years after she had retired. Aged 85. Today she feels like the oldest teenager in the world.

This is what the style icon has to teach us:

  1. Fashion rules are alien to this style icon: “I would have broken them anyhow.” She steers well clear of trends, too. “Just because something is in doesn’t mean it looks good.” The fashion queen declares that you can’t buy style. Style is a mindset!
  1. An outfit is not complete without accessories! You can usually hear Iris Apfel coming as soon as she turns a corner. She wears colourful bangles right up to her elbows. But her signature look sits on her nose: oversized, owlish sunglasses. She learnt about jewellery and scarves by watching her mother, who had an “altar” full of accessories. By the way, she is unashamedly proud of her wrinkles – she would never have a facelift or Botox.
  1. Passion generates success. The New York style icon was “discovered” for the world of fashion by Harold Koda, Curator-in-Charge of the Costume Institute at The Met, who was preparing an exhibition about top designers’ accessories and wanted to ask her advice. After taking just a quick glance into her wardrobes and vitrines, he changed his mind: she should take centre stage of the exhibition. Since then, things really have kicked off: a jewellery collection for the Home Shopping Network, a glasses line for Eyebob, even beauty photo shoots for MAC, which has made her undoubtedly the oldest person to have ever been booked to advertise a cosmetics brand.

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