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Iris Apfel: businesswoman, interior designer and style icon...

Iris Apfel: businesswoman, interior designer and style icon...

A look at the iconic legend that is Iris Apfel. 

I will be doing another blog on the actual collection but this one is all about the lady herself so grab a cuppa, get comfy and let's talk about this iconic lady....

"Style is attitude, attitude, attitude" she once said and boy does this lady have some great attitude!

Iris is a lesson to us all - to be yourself and dress to please yourself and no one else: "If you want personal style, you can't copy anyone else or it's not personal style anymore". 

I think as broochies, that's so important. Our love of quirky, individual accessories is what makes us stand apart from everyone else. 

Iris Barre was born on 29th August 1921 in Queens, New York so her 102nd birthday comes a week after the collection with Erstwilder launches. 

Although she was born on a farm, she was interested in fashion and accessories from an early age and in fact her first purchase was a brooch from a little basement store in Greenwich Village when she was about 11. She recalled haggling for it down to 65 cents and how she thought the brooch was "the cats pyjamas". 

She went on to study art history at NYU and attended art school in Wisconsin.  

She then met her beloved husband Carl Apfel when they both happened to be on holiday at Lake George in New York in 1947.  

“Our first date was Columbus Day,” Iris said in an interview to The Guardian. “Thanksgiving, Carl proposed. Christmas I got blinged. Washington’s birthday, we were married.”

Iris, who had completed an internship with interior designer Elinor Johnson in the past, had a knack for sourcing materials and fabrics necessary to restore antique pieces and in 1950 her and her husband cofounded the company Old World Weavers. The company was a huge success and they were contracted for many years by the White House before "retiring" in 1992. 

In 2005 the Metropolitan Museum in New York staged an exhibition of her wardrobe and in 2006 Ralph Lauren released a collection of textile fabrics as a tribute to her.

Iris and Carl were absolutely devoted to each other and had a marriage spanning seven decades before he sadly passed away just days before his 101st birthday in August 2015. 

Weren't they fabulous together?

Iris has continued to be a larger than life presence and said she would never actually retire, stating emphatically "it's a fate worse than death".

She seems to have an energy and vibrancy that many half her age (including myself) admire so much. 

She has had collaborations with many including high end accessories designer Judith Lieber including the cutest blue bear bag featuring her trademark glasses I was admiring until I saw the price tag of over £5000! (and it's sold out anyway!)

MAC cosmetics and Jimmy Choo shoes named products in her honour in bright shades in recognition of her love of colour. Oh and let's not forget she was a Barbie too!

High street brand H&M brought out a fashion and accessories collection with her in March 2022 to celebrate her 100th birthday which sold out in seconds and now trades on auction sites for hundreds of pounds!

Iris, who described herself as "the worlds oldest living teenager" continues to be an inspiration and for me, she will be always be an icon. 

Finally, remember, in the words of the lady herself "more is more and less is a bore!"

 - Erstwilder x Iris Apfel launches 3.30am (UK time) Tuesday 22nd August