At the age of 88, Iris New Yorker Iris Apfel remains a style icon.
Through the years she has accumulated a fabulous collection of clothes and accessories. Her inimitable style combines couture and ethnic pieces, vintage and Top Shop or H&M. She is featured in the November issue of the French Vogue magazine and an exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachussets pays homage to her fabulous sense of style: "Rare Bird of Fashion: The irreverent Iris Apfel" until February 2010.
The exhibtion: Rare Bird of Fashion
Never a slave to fashion, she has developed her unique look whilst running the legendary textile design business, "Old World Weavers", with her husband Carl. Traveling the world, she has amassed a fantastic collection of accessories that she wears with flamboyant style. A lifelong devotee to the humble jeans, she continues wearing them with aplomb in her Eighties.
In an interview she gave in 2006, she makes it clear that she is not a fashionista and not a professional collector: she wears what she buys and has many interests beyond fashion. Sharing her life between Palm Beach and NYC, she is active and has clearly no intention of fading into a pastel coloured old-age.
What clearly irks her is blandness and middle-of-the road choices.
Read the Look on line interview
When asked about fashion mistakes for older women, here is what she has to say:
"I think they are trying to hard to look young. Coco Chanel once said that what makes a woman look old is trying desperately to look young...and it's so silly, why should one be ashamed to be 84? why do you have to say that you're 52? Nobody's going to believe you anyway...they get their faces done but their hands are still creepy. I mean it's ridiculous. Why be such a fool? There nothing wrong and I think it's nice that you got to be so old...It's a blessing."
Whilst Iris Apfel's distinctive look is not for the faint-hearted, I think any 40+ woman can take a number of tips from her:
Enjoy your age
Mix low end and high-end fashion
Adopt a signature item of clothing or accessory (in Iris Apfel's case, her enormous glasses)
Play with fabrics and textures
Combine classical with ethnic pieces
Don't get stuck in the "look-du-jour"
I would like to mention that I have no connection financial or otherwise with the Peabody Essex Museum!