Rare Bird: Fashion Icon Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel in June 2011’s Architectural Digest. Photography by Roger Davies

While perusing the society pages, do you ever wonder who the woman in the oversized, round glasses is? She never fails to be adorned something bold and eye-catching, always slightly quirky and ecclectic but dressed-to-the-nines nonetheless? It’s New York City and Palm Beach’s own fashion peacock Iris Apfel. She is a former interior designer and owner of Old World Weavers textile company (which sold to Stark in 1992) and even worked on White House restoration projects for nine presidents. Apfel is certainly a part of a unique breed of style icons.

Iris Apfel and her husband Carl

Her over-the-top style was the subject of an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art called “Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel, in 2005, which then travelled to the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach in 2007, and most recently was on display at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass.

From the exhibit. Photo by C.J. Walker.

A tribute to Iris Apfel’s unique style, published in 2007

The 89-year old continues to be a force in fashion and just launched a line of jewelry called Rara Avis by Iris Apfel for the Home Shopping Network. And for their June 2011 issue, Architectural Digest featured her three-bedroom Park Avenue Manhattan apartment. Clearly, her home is every bit as idiosyncratic as her distinctive personal style.

Photos by Roger Davies
“Taste you can learn. But style is like charisma. You know it when you see it,” Apfel tells Arch Digest. 
The apartment is filled to the brim with a very personalized and creative mix of antiquities, flea market finds, color and texture. “I don’t do run-of-the-mill stuff,” she tells the magazine. “And I don’t do minimal.” 

The magazine also reveals that famed photographer Bruce Weber is doing a documentary on her. That will certainly be something to see!
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