How Iris Apfel Inspired the World to Embrace a  Unique Sense of Style

How Iris Apfel Inspired the World to Embrace a Unique Sense of Style


Iconic figure and influential designer Iris Apfel has died at the age of 102. Throughout her illustrious career, she shattered norms and inspired individuals to be their authentic selves

Fashion designer and self-described “geriatric starlet”  Iris Apfel has died at the age of 102. Decked out in her rounded black glasses, chic short white hair, and a multitude of kaleidoscopic colors in clothes, she stood out at every event she attended. More than her endeavors, she leaves behind a legacy of fruitful perceptions of individuality to the world.

Hailing from a Jewish household in New York City on August 29, 1921, Apfel initially immersed herself in the study of art history, eventually honing her expertise in interior design, with a perceptive focus on textiles. Over the span of several decades, she lent her creative touch to numerous interior design projects, notably contributing to restoration endeavors at the White House.

Iris Apfel passes away at 102 years old

Moreover, Apfel gained renown for her audacious, attention-grabbing ensembles, incorporating texture and print in the only way she could. A daring trendsetter, the designer reveled in forging uncharted territories.

At the age of 84, Apfel catapulted onto the international scene when her personal wardrobe took prestige at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. Her influence soon expanded as the exhibit grew to feature 82 outfits and over 300 accessories. Titled “Rara Avis (Rare Bird): Selections From the Iris Barrel Apfel Collection,” the show featured Apfel’s unique blend of high and low fashion discoveries, marking the first time the Costume Institute honored a non-designer individual. Her daring combinations and charismatic persona captured the world’s attention, solidifying her status as an iconoclastic force in the industry.

Iris Apfel was a American businesswoman, interior designer, actress and fashion icon

Approaching her 90s, Apfel balanced a plethora of fashion and beauty ventures, from collaborating with MAC Cosmetics on makeup lines to partnering with H&M on exclusive collections. Additionally, she spearheaded multiple lines of handbags, accessories, fragrances, and clothing, showcasing her boundless creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

In 2014, her indomitable spirit and unmatched style were immortalized in the documentary Iris, a heartfelt tribute to her status as a vocal advocate for eclectic fashion. Four years later, she penned her memoir, “Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon”, offering readers an intimate glimpse into her remarkable journey and unparalleled influence on the fashion world.

Known for her audacious signature style, Apfel became a globally recognized fashion icon

In 2019, defying ageist norms, Apfel ventured into modeling, signing a contract with the prestigious global agency IMG Models. This move placed her in the esteemed company of supermodels such as Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss, and Kate Moss. 

The designer served as a poignant reminder to audiences that fashion transcends age, embodying a timeless avenue for personal creative expression. In her passing, Iris Apfel leaves behind a legacy that extends far beyond the realm of fashion. Her unapologetic embrace of individuality, boundless creativity, and fearless approach to style will continue to inspire generations to come.

Photos and Featured Image: IRIS APFEL (via Instagram)

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