Does Iris Apfel rings a bell for you? I am positive that most of you (if not all) are quite familiar with these two names, which means that you all have immediately started smiling thanks to her quirky, edgy, colourful and so vintage-orientated style.
“The more is more and less is a bore” attitude defensor always astonished me, not only because she is 96 years old and still rocks, but mainly because every time I look at her and hear her speaking, everything gets better and my spirit is filled with high hopes, not only when it comes to Humanity but as well, when it comes to my own future and dreams. Wait, I’ve just realized that I specifically mentioned her age, but I please ask you to don’t hate (just yet, at least). Currently, and despite of being an old saying, age does not matter at all, but it sure can affect our predisposition to deal with such a deep and in constant mutation industry that is fashion. Iris, and although I don’t drink wine and have so little to add in terms of wine knowledge and ability to appreciate it, I must say that she truly looks a good addition to any wine advertisement, mostly for the Porto wines. She truly exudes youth, brilliance and such a warm spirit that it is impossible to not feel a tiny bit jealous of her life and career.
Who many of you reading this have, indeed, a life plan? Well, I sure have one – which has failed me a couple a times, I should confess – but it is quite liberating to heard from this woman that she never (ever) had a plan in life and that she always believed that what was meant to be it would, eventually, be. This mindset completely collides to several perspectives on how to make your dreams come true, right? So, what happened to the “Go forward”, to the “Fight for what you want has hard as you can” and to the one and only “Write down your goals and work on them tirelessly”? It seems that Iris is a rare case of calmness that proved to us that attitude is the best definition of style, that the best take on being successful in fashion is to truly own yourself.
Iris grew up in Queens and she was raided on a farm with her parents and grandparents, a huge influence on her vision and identity, absolutely. Although she admits to not having a plan since day one, she also admits that she was totally compelled to go to Manhattan every Thursday afternoon to explore shops all over town – back then, people were allowed to ride the entire subway system for a nickel. This experience, pretty much changed Iris’ life, forever. From being a copy-editor on Women’s Wear Daily to meeting his husband Carl Apfel in 1948 with whom she founded Old World Weavers, a company specialized in vintage furniture that served nine presidents at the White House, her experiences made her exactly who she is today.
We truly have to be thankful to the Metropolitan Museum of Arts Fashion Institute and to Harold Koda, the curator, for the wonderful exhibition of the selections from the Iris Apfel Collection, back in 2005, when she truly sprung. It spotlighted 40 objects that showcased the affinity between fashion and accessory designs and analyzed the power of dress and accessories to assert style above fashion, the individual above the collective.
The great freshness about Iris is the realness that lives in her. She hasn’t even an e-mail account and the Instagram we all know about, well, is not even hers. On the matter Instagram, she is quite assertive when she refers to it as a sort of platform of copy-cats, advising Millennials and Generation-Z to bet on themselves rather on anyone else. “I think young people today need to learn to be themselves, to develop a sense of curiosity, and not to live vicariously through these characters with no personality who they follow on social media”, she emphasized during an interview for Harper’s Bazaar USA. For know, Iris is happily working on her book called (no coincidence here) “Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon” and on her window at Bernard Goodman in New York where you can find an exquisite selection curated by her that also includes (of course) her signature glasses.
For Iris, life can be summed up in three words: only one trip.
All the love,
Sara King Moura