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On her 100th birthday: How Iris Apfel conquered the fashion world
On her 100th birthday: How Iris Apfel conquered the fashion world

The eccentric New York fashion icon has turned 100. But who is Iris Apfel? How did she get famous? And what did she do before? The portrait of a woman who sets new standards for aging.

iris apfel, karl apfel, white house, president, president, usa, new york, met museum,
iris apfel, karl apfel, white house, president, president, usa, new york, met museum,

We all know her name - and at least have a photo of her at least once freaky old lady seen with the red lips and the thick round glasses. Stylish and flashy, Iris Apfel (née Barrel) is a fashion icon like no other. In an industry dominated by eternal youth, fitness mania and cosmetic surgery (which she doesn't believe in, by the way), the 100-year-old is a refreshing contrast - and she proves that age is really just a number.

How it all started

Social norms have always been indifferent to her. If you consider how young she was - at least she was born in 1921 (!) - and what was actually expected of women at the time, their unusual careers are all the more remarkable. Growing up in Queens, New York City, the only child of a glazier and the owner of a boutique, Apple comes early on with art and design in touch.

She owes her love for fashion and her eye for details above all to her mother. "You taught me that Style is a matter of attitudeis not a question of money, "she said in an interview. She also shared a weakness for accessories and the gift of skillfully adding the finishing touches to an outfit.

An eye for detail

After studying art history and art, Apfel first worked for the fashion magazine Women's Wear Daily and then for an illustrator, until she finally met the interior designer Elinor Johnson and was hired by her because of her keen eye. One Career in the interior industry had started. During the Second World War, many companies had to forego deliveries from Europe - it was Apple's chance to develop new designs on site.

Your great love

In 1948 he married Carl Apfel and thus had 67 happy years of marriage - the two remained married until his death. He died in 2015, shortly before his 101st birthday. As for getting old, the apples seem to be doing something right. In February she posted a throwback on Instagram with the touching words, "Together forever and then, puff, it was over … A valley of tears. I'm so grateful for that, it's been a long time … Happy anniversary, rest peacefully, mine handsome, sweet prince!"

The two made a conscious decision against having children in order to focus on their careers and a common one Life full of travel and adventureto be able to concentrate. They visited Europe, East Asia, South America and North Africa, explored flea markets and bazaars, and procured rare, traditional fabrics for the homes of Iris' customers.

Interior design for high society

As demand continued to grow, the couple founded their company, Old World Weavers, specializing in the imitation of fabrics from bygone centuries. In New York they are well networked, business is going well - so well that even actress Greta Garbo and cosmetics entrepreneur Estée Lauder are among their customer base and they are nine presidents at the establishmentsupport the White House.

Rara Avis: Iris becomes world famous

Apple's look is colorful and eccentric. Her eccentric style has always attracted attention, but she doesn't care much about the opinion of others. But it is precisely this unusual sense of fashion that makes her Still world famous at the age of 84should do.

"More is more, and less is a bore"

It was 2005 when Harold Koda, then curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was urgently looking for a replacement for an exhibition that was canceled at short notice. He knows Apple and asks her to share parts of her personal Exhibit fashion and jewelry collections to be allowed. She put the ensembles together herself: under the name "Rara Avis" - which means something like "rare bird" - "Selections from the Iris Apple Collection" were made over 80 outfits shown with hundreds of accessories. It was the first time that Apfel presented her extraordinary view of fashion to a broad masses. The exhibition was a huge success and eventually the whole world attentive to the old lady.

Style is not a question of age

In 2015, her life was filmed - in the Emmy-nominated documentary "Iris", she unexpectedly chats openly from the sewing box, talks about her pastand even shows parts of her wardrobe. Apart from that, Apple is careful about her privacy. She is on social media and gives interviews, and yet she maintains a certain distance from her fans. Your love, your business partner and Companion Carl dies shortly after its completion. The grief is great, but it still retains its youthful charisma.

Retirement is worse than death

Finally comes the renowned one Model agency IMG towards them - Hailey Bieber and the Hadid sisters are also under contract here. Apfel shoots campaigns for Aigner, Kate Spade, Glossier and the cosmetics company MAC, with whom she also created her own make-up line. It's the beginning of 2019, and the then 97-year-old is big in the business. No trace of pension. "I don't think a number should define whether I'm working or not," she said. "Retirement is worse than death."

Your autobiography is appropriately named "Accidental Style Icon".(In German the book is called "Style is not a question of age".) The toy manufacturer Mattel even dedicated a Barbie to her - an honor for every celebrity. It can be seen on YouTube videos from the New York Times, Mercedes Benz and Harper's Bazaar.

Every time she is just herself. And that works. A few days ago she posted: "10 days, then I'll be 100. It feels fantastic!" Iris Apfel sets new standards for aging and for what is possible in life.

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