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Fashion Icon Iris Apfel: A Life of Style and Influence

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Fashion is not just about clothes; it is a form of self-expression and art. And when it comes to fashion icons, one name that stands out is Iris Apfel. Known for her bold and eclectic style, Iris Apfel was a true fashionista who left an indelible mark on the industry. Her recent passing at the age of 102 has left a void in the fashion world. In this article, we will take a closer look at the life and legacy of this remarkable woman.

Early Life and Career

Iris Apfel was born on August 29, 1921, in Astoria, Queens, New York. From an early age, she had a passion for fashion and design. After graduating from high school, she attended New York University and studied art history. This laid the foundation for her future career in the fashion industry.

Apfel’s career in fashion began in the 1950s when she and her husband, Carl Apfel, founded Old World Weavers, a textile company specializing in unique and rare fabrics. Their clients included prestigious names like Greta Garbo and Estee Lauder. This venture allowed Iris to travel the world and immerse herself in different cultures, which greatly influenced her personal style.

Iris Apfel: The Fashion Icon

Iris Apfel’s unique style was characterized by her love for bold and colorful accessories. She was often seen wearing oversized glasses, vibrant statement necklaces, and layers of bracelets. Apfel believed that fashion should be fun and that one should not be afraid to take risks.

Her distinctive style caught the attention of the fashion industry, and in 2005, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute featured an exhibition dedicated to her collection of clothing and accessories. The exhibition, titled “Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel,” showcased her eclectic taste and celebrated her status as a fashion icon.

Iris Apfel: A Cultural Influence

Iris Apfel’s influence extended beyond the fashion world. She became a symbol of aging gracefully and embracing one’s individuality. Her mantra was, “More is more, and less is a bore,” encouraging people to express themselves through their personal style without conforming to societal norms.

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Apfel’s impact on popular culture was evident in her collaborations with various brands. She teamed up with MAC Cosmetics to launch a makeup collection in 2011 and worked with designer Alexis Bittar on a jewelry line. These collaborations allowed her to share her unique style with a wider audience.

Iris Apfel: The Documented Life

In 2014, a documentary titled “Iris” was released, directed by Albert Maysles. The film provided an intimate look into Apfel’s life, showcasing her vibrant personality, witty remarks, and her unwavering passion for fashion. The documentary received critical acclaim and further solidified her status as a fashion icon.

Iris Apfel’s Lasting Legacy

Iris Apfel’s impact on the fashion industry and popular culture is undeniable. Her ability to mix high-end designer pieces with thrift store finds inspired countless individuals to embrace their own unique style. She shattered age stereotypes and proved that style knows no bounds.

Apfel’s influence will continue to be felt in the fashion world for years to come. Her legacy serves as a reminder to embrace our individuality, celebrate our personal style, and never be afraid to take risks.


Iris Apfel was more than just a fashion icon; she was a trailblazer who defied societal norms and left an indelible mark on the industry. Her eclectic style, vibrant personality, and unwavering passion for fashion continue to inspire generations. As we bid farewell to this remarkable woman, let us remember her as a true pioneer and a symbol of self-expression. Iris Apfel’s legacy will forever remain in the hearts and closets of fashion enthusiasts around the world.

“I think that you have to be interested if you want to be interesting.” – Iris Apfel

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