In an industry that is ever changing, fashion (in general) has its standards steeped in norms when it comes to age, race, height, and trends. These ideas create a sense of notions that
surround likely candidates to whom will be successful; however, like anything some rules simply don't apply.
When the fashion community is abuzz around personalities, it's worth noting that Iris Apfel, interior designer, business woman and yes fashion designer - has been doing things the way she has wanted to for well over 90 years! In a discussion with us on what rules she had to get to where she is, she exclaimed, "I don't have any rules, because I would only be breaking them, so it's a waste of time." Whether you see her on HSN with her coveted line - Rara Avis, gracing museums at her own retrospectives, taking over Paris during Fashion Week via Iris Takes Paris, designing a wearable tech line with Wisewear, giving talks to those who are inspired by her words or posing for a number of brands as a collaborator and/or face of the brand - she is doing things her way.
Although she creates a frenzy when she is out and about, she is very candid about herself. "I don't like pretty. I never felt pretty. I don't feel it now - I'm not a pretty person, but I don't feel badly. It worked out well, because I found that all the girls I know who got by on their looks, as time went on and they faded, they were nothing. And they were very disappointed. When you're somebody like myself, in order to get around and be attractive, you have to develop something, you have to learn something, you have to do something. So you become a bit more interesting."
This ethos personifies the way that Iris found herself in the most interesting circles. Her eclectic interests led her to work at Women's Wear Daily, as an assistant to interior designer Elinor Johnson, and even as an assistant to illustrator, Robert Graham.
She married Carl Apfel in 1948, two years later, they launched textile house Old World Weavers, which allowed them to travel the world and she continued to infuse her sense of style by buying non-Western pieces and artisanal clothing. "My husband used to say that I looked at a piece of fabric and would listen to the threads. It tells me a story. I have to get a physical reaction when I buy something - a bolt of lightning. It’s fun to get
knocked out that way!"
With such inspiration at her disposal, one can only wonder how many times she was struck when she also had the opportunity to work at the White House on an array of restoration products for nine presidents (Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton).
With such a strong background and sense of self, it's the amount of projects that she has embraced that continues to open her up to audiences that may not have been privvy to the
indelible mark that she has left in fashion and pop culture.
"I see myself as the world's oldest living teenager... I try to get as much kick out of things as possible," which can be seen with a number of her collaborations that she has done in partnerships with brands such as Macy's INC line which brings her style to this on trend
brand. Pieces included her play of fabrication, mixing textures and of course - you can't talk about Iris and style without including her accessories, "I get more compliments on accessories
than anything else. I think they're kind of like herbs and spices. They give zest and zing to an outfit."
Her love of style (as this is something that one should aim for as it embodies your personality) can be seen in the way she shared an anecdote with us about her mother. "My mother worshipped at the alter of accessories and I got the bug. She always said, if you have a good, little, simple black dress and you have different accessories, you can have 27 different outfits."
At 95, there are clearly no signs of stopping for this lady of style. In addition to seeing her pop up in campaigns for Alexis Bittar and Kate Spade, - she is honored in a multitude of ways. Last year, her documentary, Iris included her late husband Carl and brought her to the big screen. This year she was honored with the Women Together Special Award of the Year at the 12th Annual Women Together Gala at the United Nations, alongside Rosario Dawson, The Punta Cana Foundation and the Loewe Foundation.
Iris' style will also have a permanent home in The Museum of Lifestyle and Fashion History in Boynton Beach, Florida as designs are currently underway for a dedicated gallery that will house her clothing, accessories, and furnishings.
Who knows what's next for this 95 year old cover girl?