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Who is Iris Apfel? Find out about the fashion icon, hailed as the ‘First Lady of Fabric’

Two days ago, Apfel turned 100, and her age-defying story is for the world to know

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
August 31, 2021 1:20:59 pm
Iris Apfel, Iris Apfel story, Iris Apfel fashion icon, who is Iris Apfel, Iris Apfel style, Iris Apfel fashion, Iris Apfel life, Iris Apfel news, about Iris Apfel, how old is Iris Apfel, indian express newsApfel signed a modelling contract with IMG in 2019, at the behest of Tommy Hilfiger. She has appeared in many advertising campaigns and brand partnerships. (Photo: Instagram/@iris.apfel)

Among the many names in the fashion industry around the world, the one that is most distinguished is that of Iris Apfel. The American businesswoman and interior designer is a fashion icon with a powerful influence. She turned 100 years old two days ago, on August 29. In an ageist world drunk on eternal youth, Apfel’s age-defying story stands out.

In 2015, she gave an interview to The Guardian, wherein she called herself a “geriatric starlet”. Over the years, Apfel has become somewhat of a viral sensation. Born ‘Iris Barrel’ in Astoria, Queens, New York on August 29, 1921 into a Jewish family, she was the only child of Samuel Barrel, whose family owned a glass and mirror business, and his Russian-born wife Sadye, who owned a fashion boutique. She was, however, raised on a farm, from where she would take the subway to explore Manhattan.

She told The Guardian, “At that time you could ride the whole subway system for a nickel, so each week I would take a different section of New York — Chinatown, Yorkville, Harlem, Greenwich Village. And I really fell in love with the Village. The Village was where I started to poke around antique shops and become enchanted with all this old junk.”

 

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Apfel met her husband Carl in the late 1940s, a L’Officiel US report mentions, and they founded a textile company called ‘Old World Weavers’. The couple specialised in recreating vintage textiles. They even got a contract with the White House, where they got the chance to work with nine presidents. Apfel also earned herself the monikers ‘First Lady of Fabric’ and ‘Our Lady of the Cloth’.

Per the same report, the couple travelled the world in search of unique textiles, clothes, and home furnishings for her stint as an interior decorator, too. In 2005, The Met’s Costume Institute decided to make her the centerpiece of an exhibition titled, ‘Rara Avis: Selections from the Iris Apfel Collection‘. A show that had been previously scheduled, was cancelled and Harold Koda, the curator, decided to reach out to Apfel about her collection of costume jewellery.

 

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The show featured her jewellery, clothes, and the signature tortoise shell glasses. The museum wrote of her style, “An American original in the truest sense, Iris Apfel is one of the most vivacious personalities in the worlds of fashion, textiles, and interior design, and over the past 40 years, she has cultivated a personal style that is both witty and exuberantly idiosyncratic.”

 

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A post shared by Iris Apfel (@iris.apfel)

In 2015, a documentary titled ‘Iris‘ brought her more fame. It depicted her life — along with that of her husband’s. Interestingly, her personal sense of style has not changed over the years. The trademark outfit, glasses, jewellery and garments are recognisable attributes, making her a Halloween favourite. In 2018, toy-making company Mattel also made a Barbie doll version of her.

 

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As mentioned before, age has just been a number for her. Apfel signed a modelling contract with IMG in 2019, at the behest of Tommy Hilfiger. She has appeared in many advertising campaigns and brand partnerships as well. Five days prior to her 100th birthday, she even released The Iris Apfel Zentennial Collection with Zenni Optical, which is a line of eyewear with five frames that reflect her accessory philosophy, the report states.

 

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A post shared by Iris Apfel (@iris.apfel)

“An outfit isn’t complete without a signature accessory, or many, to show off your individuality. Mine are glasses — the bigger and brighter, the better. I knew I had to find a fabulous eyewear partner to launch an eyewear line,” she was quoted as saying.

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