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Women You Need To Know: Iris Apfel

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You know when you are casually chatting with a friend and they reference a person who you feel like you should definitely know, but you don’t?  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this (you people must be #blessed), it goes a little something like this:

Friend: Wow, so how excited are you for the Iris Apfel documentary to come out?  That lady is something else!

You: Oh, yeah, totally!  So stoked, but maybe you could just give me a quick refresher on who Iris Apfel is?  I’m blanking!

Friend: … you don’t know who Iris Apfel is?

*You stick your metaphorical tail between you legs and slowly retreat, quickly consulting your favorite search engine on the matter- after all, Google answers all of your pressing questions without judgement.  For this, I am forever grateful… Thank you Google for all that you do*

I don’t want this to be you, dear reader.  We have all been there, and it is never fun to be out of the loop when it comes to style icons, designers, or people of interest.  For this reason, I’ve decided to start a “Women You Need To Know” series, where I will occasionally feature an undeniably, universally, amazingly cool woman.  This time, I bring you Iris Apfel.

Take a second and think about where you plan to be when you are 93 years old.  I have had many a conversation with many a friend promising that we will sit in rocking chairs and knit together in old age.  Yes, there will be cats (mine hypoallergenic (hairless?)), and sitting on the porch, rocking, we will reminisce about that time in our 20’s when we did something awesome.  I don’t know what Mrs. Apfel saw herself doing at the age of 93, but I can tell you it is definitely not what most of us have planned!  Wikipedia, the most reliable source in the world, considers Iris “an American businesswoman, interior designer, and fashion icon.”  I think I might add a couple more occupations to her developed resume, such as “Best Accessorizer in the World” and “Only Woman Who Can Pull Off Those Glasses.”

As your hypothetical friend said, Iris is something else.  April 29th, a documentary about her life, Iris, comes to theaters, and I encourage you all to attend and bask in this woman’s incredible style.  She is known for wearing many large accessories and definitely doesn’t limit herself to one or two statement pieces.  She is colorful, and her style is loud and idiosyncratic… so idiosyncratic that in 2005-6, The Met featured her accessories as an exhibit. Her influence in the fashion world has even led to the rise of the senior supermodel, such as Joan Didion for Céline and Joni Mitchell for Yves Saint Laurent.

A couple of other fun facts about Iris: She’s been married for 67 years, she has an accessory line, and she took part in several design restoration projects at the White House for NINE presidents!

A couple of cool links you might want to check out if you want to learn more about Iris: Leandra Medine, The Manrepeller, interviews Iris ApfelIris Meets Kanye WestDocumentary Trailer

Some of my favorite Iris Apfel quotes:

“I never had a fondness for gems or the extravagance of Harry Winston or Van Cleef & Arpels. I’ve always liked the more flamboyant, imaginative things. I lusted after costume jewelry. My husband was a very lucky man.”

“If you put something together and it doesn’t look so good, the fashion police are not going to come a take you away. And if they do, you might have some fun in jail.”

“You have to know yourself and know what you can carry. If you’re not comfortable, no matter how well dressed you are, you’re not going to look right. I’d rather be happy and feel comfy.”


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