PROFILE – Iris Apfel : American businesswoman, interior designer, and fashion icon


Iris Apfel has become world-renowned for her eccentric sense of style. She has been called a fashion legend, a style maverick, a rara avis. The nonagenarian has developed a large following of young people attracted to her unique blend of aesthetic brilliance and self-assurance.

After starting her career as an interior designer, Apfel, along with her husband, Carl (who is now 99), founded international textile house Old World Weavers in the early 1950s. During the course of her career, she traveled the world to raid souks, bazaars, thrift shops, and countless couture houses, and completed White House restorations for several administrations, including those of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton.

Along the way, Apfel amassed a vibrant wardrobe, comprising thick bangles and necklaces, her signature glasses, wildly printed dresses, and eveningwear, that has been known to lend her—in the words of Harold Koda, curator in charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—“a Fellini-esque theatricality.”

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