Iris Apfel: the muse of New York. A true New York;-)
The irreverent Iris Apfel became the muse of the last NY Fashion Week.
She is 90 years old and a gorgeous look. She gets recognised on the street and trailed by fashion bloggers. She has an entertainment lawyer and her own range of costume jewellery. “I have a fan base,” she told a recent interviewer with undisguised glee. She has become a muse for New York fashion: Ralph Lauren based a 2006 collection on upholstery fabrics as a tribute to Apfel’s work as a textile designer; last month, Apfel attended as guest of honour a catwalk show that the designer Joanna Mastroianni billed as being inspired by Apfel’s style. Mac cosmetics this year launched a range of Iris Apfel colours, including Pink Pigeon and Scarlet Ibis, referencing the name of the Met show – Rare Bird – and Apfel’s penchant for bright colours. Apfel stars, along with Anna Wintour, as a New York grande dame in the documentary Bill Cunningham New York, having been a regular in Cunningham’s photos for several decades, and is set to be the subject of her own documentary by Grey Gardens film-maker Albert Maysles.
Apfel has described herself as “the world’s oldest living teenager”.
Apfel has seized the imagination not as a couture fashion plate but as an example to a free-spirited, adventurous New York mindset that, these days, seems in danger of getting lost beneath the anodyne beauty of a Manhattan aesthetic that worships cosmetic dentistry and blow-drying above individuality or creativity. Marc Jacobs, another New Yorker with a craving for adventure in his clothes, told the International Herald Tribune recently that “it’s the life of these [clothes] that’s interesting to me … whether you find yourself on a curb after partying in a dress, sitting on the curb smoking a cigarette at the end of a night or whether you get whisked away by your Prince Charming.”
Apfel has a story to tell about each of her outfits; she insists that hers is not a fashion collection, because she bought every piece to wear. “I’m a hopeless romantic. I buy things because I fall in love with them. I never buy anything just because it’s valuable,” she says. The unifying principle is excess. “My look is either very baroque or very Zen – everything in between makes me itch.”