There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a fabulous, ballsy old lady.
Iris Apfel, self-styled geriatric starlet, is a 93-year old collector of fashion and designer of eyeglasses, jewelry, cosmetics, interior design fabrics, and of residences, including the Truman, Kennedy, and Clinton White Houses.
Let me talk about the White House for a moment. You see how she styles herself. Her style is obviously fearless and eclectic. Yet her work for in the White House was remarkably devoid of her signature. It was a restoration rather than a redesign. It shows real respect for the history of the place, and a staggering design range. The woman is a true genius.
I was fortunate enough to see the show featuring some of her legendary clothing collection at the Met’s Costume Institute with my mother in 2005, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
Harold Koda, the curator of the Costume Institute at the Met, was quoted by the NY Times as saying, “To dress this way, there has to be an educated visual sense. I keep thinking, ‘Don’t try this at home.’ ”
She does this thing where she appears to load up her slight frame with pounds and pounds of accessories, but on her it works. When I try even a modest version of such things, I look like a little girl playing dress up.
“Apfel once met a collector in the Midwest who has 15,000 pieces in her couture collection. When she showed Apfel her “divine Geoffrey Beene dress,” Apfel said, “Oh my God, you must have had so much fun wearing it!” The woman replied, “Wear it!? This is part of my collection. You don’t wear your collection!” To which Apfel responded, “In that case I don’t have a collection.” –Ironing Board Collective
Four months ago, she decided to clear out her warehouse and sell on OneKingsLane.com nearly all the antiques she and her husband had collected during their decades together.
PERSONAL NOTE: If my dutiful wife’s eyes haven’t glazed over (she’s wonderful and very supportive of me, but fashion and design fill her with ennui), she’s getting excited in the hopes that I’m working up to selling all our stuff. Sorry, love. False alarm. Let’s revisit when I’m 93.
Happily, before the purge, she let The Huffington Post in for one last gawk. And if that’s not enough for you (it wasn’t enough for me), Architectural Digest did a similar piece about her Manhattan residence in 2011.
“Design is never done.” Iris Apfel
If you enjoy Iris, you might want to check out my May post called “Never, Ever Act Your Age Part II.”