I love the style and exuberance of Iris Apfel. Later in her career she has become know more for her fashion sense than for her interior decorating While I admire her as a fashionista, (some refer to her as the queen of boho chic), it is her decorating that I want to focus on in this mini tribute. I want to invite you to tour her New York apartment.
Born Iris Barrel in Astoria, Queens, New York, Apfel is 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. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin’s art school, she wanted a career in fashion. However, she went to work for an interior decorator who Iris said " couldn't decorate her way out of a shoebox".
But this lady had a talent for scavenging from junkyards and flea markets the kinds of furniture and fabrics that were fabulous. Iris caught the decorating bug and the loved the thrill of the hunt. She decided she could be better than her employer and realized she had found her calling.Her eye for unique furnishings and objects, as well as her facility with color and texture, brought her instant success. “I don’t do run-of-the-mill stuff,” she says, “and I don’t do minimal.”
Most people know that other than French County, I design in a multi-layered and textured style and love interesting objets d'art. So it is natural that I would love and admire the decorating style of Iris Apfel. I just wanted to share her with those of you who may not be aware of her talent and fabulousness!
"My mother wore a lot more makeup than I. She was a totally different type. She had more of the look of the Duchess of Windsor—she was very put together, and she was very very picture perfect. There was never a hair out of place. Her clothes were more feminine, and very ladylike—very elegant."
Iris studied art history at NYU before going to work for Women's Wear Daily and later for interior designer, Elinor Johnson. In 1948, she married Carl Apfel and launched the textile firm, Old World Weavers which they ran until 1992. Their clients included the White House during nine different presidencies. (The Apfels sold the company to Stark Carpet in 1992.)
Pictures of Iris Apfel's apartment are from Architectural Digest.
Known for her eclectic mixing of haute couture with costume jewelry and exotic baubles, Apfel has inspired bold developments in the fashion industry through her spirited irreverence and pitch-perfect taste.
She burst into black type in 2005, when an exhibition of her colorful and extravagantly accessorized wardrobe was a sensation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
"Coco Chanel once said that what makes a woman look old is trying desperately to look young. Why should one be ashamed to be 84? Why do you have to say that you're 52? Nobody's going to believe you anyway, so why be such a fool? It's nice that you got to be so old. It's a blessing."
“Getting older ain’t for sissies, I’ll tell you. It’s very funny. You have to push yourself when you’re older, because it’s very easy to fall into the trap. You start to fall apart—you just have to do your best to paste yourself together. I think doing things and being active is very important. When your mind is busy, you don’t hurt so much. Thank God I love to do things".
"At ninety, I have all these new careers—a makeup collection with MAC, working on glasses for Eye Bobs, I’m on Home Shopping and on YOOX, and I do a big program with the fashion school at the University of Texas at Austin—they made me a professor".