The Librarian’s Cellar: Rare Bird of Fashion – IRIS APFEL

Or, in her own words – A Geriatric Starlet!

Interior designer and fashion icon, Iris Apfel, now 93, and whose husband of 66 years, Carl, turned 100 during the making of this documentary of her life, built her career on a love of colour, texture, craft and originality. An advocate of anything that isn’t the ‘norm’ she founded her own company, Old World Weavers, in the 1950’s which she and Carl ran until retirement in 1992. With an emphasis on restoring and replicating fine textiles, the couple travelled the world to source unique art and fabrics, and over the years, Iris has accumulated an eclectic collection of antiques and pieces that she loves – though a lot of it she is now donating – or selling – as she ‘needs the sheckles!’

Iris loves to browse and haggle, and her apartment is dense with delightful pieces from the seriously expensive to the sublimely playful, including toys and Christmas decorations. A wildly attractive woman, with a light-hearted, infectious ‘down-to-earth girl from New York’ attitude to life, by her own admission, she has never classed herself as beautiful in the traditional sense – she was once told by Frieda Loehmann, founder of the famed department store where she worked as a young girl, that she was not pretty and would never be pretty, but it didn’t matter, because she had something much better. She had style.

Yes, indeed, the woman has style, oodles of it, and she has held strong to her originality and sense of humour to become an inspiration to every woman who does not wish to be a slave to the ordinary. While her own dress sense is larger than life, by her own admission, Iris is also very pragmatic. Her philosophy is simple – style is an attitude – do whatever you want – let people think whatever they like – have a good time. On the subject of aging, she is equally practical about having to push on when you’re older. Doing things and being active is very important. When your mind is busy, you don’t hurt so much – the woman is a tonic, catch her if you can.

Footnote: IRIS Director, Albert Maysles, [Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens] passed away after filming the documentary.

IRIS is currently screening at the Lighthouse Cinema, Dublin. Watch the Official Trailer Here. Magnolia Pictures 2014

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