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IRIS: A Life of Style & Substance

IRIS: A Life of Style & Substance

How I have not watched the documentary about the style icon that is Iris Apfel sooner baffles me. FYI – it’s available on Netflix. Add it to your queue. This documentary is inspiring on many levels.

maxresdefaultWho is Iris?

At the age of 94 years old, Queens native Iris Apfel has lived a life of an American businesswoman, interior designer and fashion icon. In the documentary she mentions that everything she has done she never intended to do. Hmph, isn’t it funny how life works? At her first job at Loehman’s department store she was told by Mrs. Loehman herself, Young lady, you may not be pretty but you’ve got something much better  – you’ve got style.”  Later on she found herself working as an interior designer and it was when she couldn’t find a particular fabric that she started her company Old World Weavers. She traveled the world and her eccentric wardrobe is a reflection of that. No hold bars.

iris-apfel-2From her personal style to her personal life I find Iris so inspiring. I love the relationship they show between her and her husband. It’s very sweet. Her husband, who unfortunately passed away in August (a few days shy of his 101st birthday), compliments his wife. You can tell they truly enjoyed each other and their many years together.

screen-shot-2015-04-27-at-3-43-27-pm83362037Iris came into the spotlight when The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum did an exhibit on her style called Rare Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel.  The show created such buzz that it went on to show at museums in West Palm Beach, FL, Roslyn Harbor, New York and Salem Massachusetts.

21apfelpic“Color is so important. Color can raise the dead.” -Iris

I was excited to find out that she is donating her clothing to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts as part of a permanent exhibit. After seeing this in the documentary I immediately told a friend that we MUST go the next time I am in town. What I would do to be invited over to her Park Avenue apartment to see the rest of her clothing in person…! There is an entire room filled with clothing from her wardrobe.

dam-images-celebrity-homes-iris-apfel-iris-apfel-apartment-01-portraitA fun fact about Iris is that at age of 90 years old she was a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin. I love it! Another one of the many things I find inspiring about Iris. Her career path may not be traditional but she always goes after what she believes in and loves, at any age – like a boss.


In a society where there are articles shared on social media that scream titles like “I Retired at 35” or “30 Millionaires Under 30” it’s comforting to see women like Iris owning who they are and not the least bit apologetic about it.  Whenever a friend or acquaintance groans about becoming older I can’t help but roll my eyes. If you’re not looking forward to the future and getting older than you’re not living the present right. Take a que from Iris and these other fabulous women owning it.

I hope you enjoy this documentary as much as I did. When it comes to time for someone to write Iris Apfel’s biography I hope they title it Iris Apfel: A Life of Style & Substance because that’s exactly what Iris represents to me; style and substance.