Monday, 19 March 2012

My New Style Icon: Iris Apfel

Until last year, I had only ever really had two "style icons", and they were none other than Sarah Jessica Parker and Zooey Deschanel. Due to being somewhat obsessed with Sex and the City, and even more so with Carrie Bradshaw, I became hooked on what SJP was wearing and where it was from and what she was into. In addition to this, I adored Zooey's individuality and confidence to wear what she felt was feminine and beautiful as opposed to outlandishly sexy. Don't get me wrong, I still love SJP and Zooey, but my new obsession is pretty much in an entire league of her own.

Let me introduce you to 90 year old Iris Apfel.

Unlike most people, the first thing I notice about Iris is her unbelievably beautiful clothes, and her outstanding individual style. The second thing I notice is her signature glasses (not many people could pull off those glasses, but my God does she rock them well.) In 2005, the Metropolitan Museum of New York showed an exhibition of her wardrobe, entitled Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel. Believe me, I would have given my left leg to be there, but wasn't even aware of the exhibition until a couple of years later. (One of the most talked about pieces shown was a Jean-Louis Scherrer coat made of duck, rooster and fowl feathers from 1962.) After the exhibition, that was it - Iris was a fully fledged New York socialite, attending every fashion show, sitting on the front row, with people begging her for photographs, autographs and style tips.

Despite having a relatively quiet life before the age of 83, Iris is now busier than she ever was in her youth. Iris and her husband Carl Apfel started the textile firm "Old World Weavers" in 1950, two years after they got married, and it ran until 1992 when they both retired. Throughout her life, it seems, Iris has had two constant loves - Carl, and fashion.


In recent years Iris' fame has gone through the roof, with MAC launching an entire range of cosmetics dedicated to her, which I can only imagine is due to her exquisite taste in lip colour.

Not only does she have her own MAC range, but Jimmy Choo also recently named a mini range "IRIS" after none other than our favourite pensioner. The high heeled shoe in the range (there is also a flat version of the shoe, and a fringed bag) is embellished and somewhat tribal, much like a lot of Iris' own accessories. Although they may be a little high for Iris to wear herself, they certainly compliment and represent her style.

The main thing which made me fall head-over-six-inch-heels for Iris was her untouched individuality. Everything this lady wears is so beautiful, and yet so alternative, I don't even know where to start with the compliments. To date there is nothing I have seen her wear which made me think, "Oh dear Iris.." because no matter what, she can pull her outfit off and make it look effortless.

Having a style icon is not all about what they wear and wanting to wear an identical outfit. It is about the admiration for their confidence in dressing like an individual and knowing what suits their body, and even more so, their personality. I love the fact that after almost an entire lifetime of dressing in an eccentric and flamboyant way simply because she loves fashion, Iris has become famous, developed a fan base and started an entire career out of her personal style - and she takes it all in her stride. One of my favourite quotes about Iris Apfel came from Roberta Smith who is an art critic for the New York Times. She wrote, "before multiculturalism was a word, Mrs Apfel was wearing it."

I would now like you all to watch the following two minute video, which I think is the perfect conclusion to my Iris Apfel blog. Never have I seen a 90 year old lady who is so cool. That is the only word I can think of to describe her - cool. And her 'New Yawk' accent is music to my ears.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful lady! So impressive and unusual. Delight!