Iris Apfel, the Queen of Quirky Style, Passes Away at 102

Iris Apfel, the legendary fashion icon and designer, who was known for her eclectic and eccentric style, has passed away at her home in Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday. She was 102 years old. Her death was announced on her official Instagram account, which had nearly 3 million followers, and which described her as “a rare bird of fashion”. Her death was also confirmed by her commercial agent, Lori Sale, who called her “extraordinary”.

Iris Apfel’s Life and Career

Iris Apfel was born on August 29, 1921, in Queens, New York, to a Jewish family. She studied art history at New York University and attended art school at the University of Wisconsin. She worked as a copywriter for Women’s Wear Daily and as an assistant to illustrator Robert Goodman. She married Carl Apfel, an advertising executive, in 1948, and they remained together until his death in 2015, at the age of 100.

In 1950, Iris and Carl Apfel founded Old World Weavers, a textile and interior design company, which specialized in reproducing antique fabrics and furnishing. They worked on various projects, including the restoration of the White House for nine presidents, from Truman to Clinton. They also traveled around the world, collecting rare and exotic fabrics, accessories, and artifacts, which influenced Iris Apfel’s personal style.

Iris Apfel
Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel’s style was characterized by her bold and colorful outfits, which mixed high-end and low-end pieces, vintage and modern items, and ethnic and western elements. She wore oversized glasses, bright lipstick, and layers of jewelry, creating a unique and expressive look. She once said, “I don’t have any rules, because I’d only be breaking them.”

Iris Apfel’s Fame and Legacy

Iris Apfel became a fashion celebrity in her late 80s, after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York featured her wardrobe in an exhibition titled “Rara Avis: Selections from the Iris Barrel Apfel Collection” in 2005. The exhibition was a huge success, and it traveled to several other museums across the country. Iris Apfel also became the subject of a documentary film, “Iris”, directed by Albert Maysles, in 2014, which showcased her life and style.

Iris Apfel also collaborated with various brands and organizations, such as MAC Cosmetics, H&M, Old Navy, and Barbie, to create products and campaigns inspired by her style. She also wrote a book, “Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon”, in 2018, which shared her stories and insights on fashion and life. She also mentored and inspired many young designers and fashion enthusiasts, who admired her creativity and individuality.

Iris Apfel received numerous awards and honors for her contributions to fashion and culture, such as the Women Together Special Award of the Year from the United Nations in 2016, the Fashion Icon Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2019, and the Order of Arts and Letters from the French government in 2023. She also held honorary doctorates from several universities, such as the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Pratt Institute.

Iris Apfel’s Tributes and Memories

Iris Apfel’s death has sparked an outpouring of tributes and memories from her fans and friends, who celebrated her life and style. Many celebrities, such as Lenny Kravitz, Naomi Campbell, and Diane von Furstenberg, posted photos and messages on social media, expressing their admiration and gratitude for Iris Apfel. Many fashion magazines, such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle, also featured Iris Apfel on their covers and articles, highlighting her influence and legacy.

Iris Apfel’s style and spirit will live on in the hearts and minds of many people, who will remember her as a rare bird of fashion, a queen of quirky style, and an accidental icon. She once said, “I don’t dress to be stared at. I dress for myself.” She also said, “When you don’t dress like everybody else, you don’t have to think like everybody else.”

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