Monday Muse: Iris Apfel

Monday Muse: Iris Apfel

Style icons come in all shapes and sizes, but Iris Apfel is one fashionista who truly breaks the mold. The businesswoman, interior designer and sartorial legend may be 96 years old, but her influence over trends and attitudes towards fashion have never been stronger. Here’s why she’s our Monday Muse…
Photography: rex

1. Her Career Transcends Fashion

Despite a short stint at Women’s Wear Daily in her early career, Iris Apfel rose to prominence as a textiles entrepreneur and designer, famously overseeing White House restoration projects throughout her career. Her work spanned across nine presidents in total, from Eisenhower to Kennedy, Nixon and Clinton.

2. She’s A Serious Globetrotter

A career collecting textiles inspired not only her eclectic fashion sense but also her interior tastes – a 2011 Architectural Digest peak into her home exposed furniture and trinkets collected across the world over a 60-year period, with everything from bleached-oak 18th-century French boiseries to 17th-century Sicilian chairs and antique paintings.


There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self-expression and, above all, attitude.

3. Her Personal Style is Unique

Minimalists likely won’t relate to Iris Apfel’s layered, colourful, heavily-accessorised signature look, but it’s earned her legendary fashion status. Famous items in her wardrobe include an eye-catching 1962 multicoloured rooster, a duck and fowl feather coat by Jean-Louis Scherrer and an orange jumpsuit by Geoffrey Beene from the early 80s alongside chunky jewellery collected from Bhutan, Tibet and other far-flung destinations.

4. She’s A Cultural Icon

Her iconic status has been recognised by the revered Costume Institute at the Met in NYC, who helped her rise to fashion prominence with a 2005 retrospective of her wardrobe. She was immortalised as a Barbie earlier this year; MAC Cosmetics created a 2012 collection in homage to her; and was the star of the eponymous 2014 documentary Iris, available on Netflix.




5. She Is Proof That Style is Ageless

Apfel told the Washington Post in a 2015 interview: "Fashion has this youth mania, but 70-year-old ladies don’t have 18-year-old bodies and 18-year-olds don’t have a 70-year-olds’ dollars.” A poster girl for style over the designated age limit, the same article lauded her for catalysing the celebration of (some) older women in the fashion industry, from Joan Didion fronting Céline campaigns to Saint Laurent casting Joni Mitchell.

6. Her Fashion Advice is Legendary

As one of the most quoted women in fashion, her advice is considered gospel to those in the know. She has an opinion on everything from grooming – “If your hair is done properly and you’re wearing good shoes, you can get away with anything” – to personal style: “There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self-expression and, above all, attitude".

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