Iris Apfel – The Accidental Icon
If this centenarian supermodel and muse isn’t an inspiration to women everywhere, I don’t know who is.
She was told “you’re not pretty and you’ll never be pretty, but it doesn’t matter. You have something much better – you have style!”
After watching a documentary about her life 8 years ago at Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) I became obsessed with her. She’s someone to admire, simply fascinating and lives her life with a joie de vivre like no other. At 102 years young, she’s still going strong. We should all be so lucky.
Her claim to fame as an American businesswoman was having an interior design business with her husband, Carl, from 1950 to 1992. She founded Old World Weavers in 1950, a small interior design textile company to recreate original fabrics from the beginning of the 19th Century and reproduce fabrics they found while traveling the world. Their career in textiles got them a contract with the White House that spanned nine presidencies. She helped nine first ladies decorate the White House according to their taste, combined with a “touch of Apfel”.
She obviously has a flair for fashion and great personal style. Some credit her for creating personal style. A trendsetter who follows no trends – a trend starter!
Apfel is the first living person who was not a designer to have her clothing and accessories exhibited at the Costume Institute Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in 2005. She is also the first woman over 100 to make a collaboration with H&M. Previous designers for the multinational fast-fashion clothing company (based in Sweden but pretty much all over now) have included Stella McCartney, Karl Lagerfeld + Comme des Garçons .
She’s also the only person over 100 to have more than 2 Million followers on Instagram.
Married for 67 years, her husband Carl passed away on August 1st, 2015 at age 100. Apfel will celebrate her 103rd birthday on August 29, 2023.
Iris Apfel resides in Palm Beach. One day when I go back there, I’m going to find her.
It’s well worth watching this 2015 documentary trailer:
The woman who said “A woman is as old as she looks, but a man is never old until he stops looking” still offers hope to women everywhere – even if they’re not pretty and never will be. It’s all about how you present yourself.