Source: Harper's Bazzar

Age Is Just a Number: Iris Apfel Celebrates 100th Birthday

Fashion icon, businesswoman and self-proclaimed geriatric starlet, Iris Apfel turned 100 earlier this week. With almost two million Instagram followers, multiple modelling contracts, a documentary and even her own Barbie doll, Iris Apfel has never let her age hold her back.

Born in Queens in 1921, Apfel was the daughter of two Jewish farmers. Despite her grounded upbringing, Apfel discovered a love of art, fashion and design at an early age while playing with her grandmother’s fabrics. After marrying the love of her life, Carl Apfel, the couple ran an international fabric manufacturing company for many years. While juggling her side gig as an interior decorator, Apfel travelled extensively with her husband in search of textiles, clothing and home decor from around the world.

It was in 2005 when The Met’s Costume Institute brought Apfel into the spotlight. When a previously scheduled show was cancelled, curator Harold Koda contacted Apfel about her renowned costume jewellery collection. The result was an exhibition showcasing her eclectic jewellery, clothing and iconic tortoiseshell glasses.

“An American original in the truest sense, Iris Apfel is one of the most vivacious personalities in the worlds of fashion, textiles, and interior design, and over the past 40 years, she has cultivated a personal style that is both witty and exuberantly idiosyncratic.”

The Met

Since then, Apfel has captured the hearts of people all over the world with her eclectic sartorial choices, refusal to confirm and inspiring life views. Having inspired countless people to stand out and dare to be different, Apfel is one of the world’s greatest living icons.

Image: Iris Apfel Source: Iris Apfel Instagram

Fashion-wise, Apfel is admired for her clever mix of high and low fashion. You may find her wearing a Dior coat with a flea market dress or an H&M bracelet with a Chanel handbag. From feather boas and layers of chunky jewellery to brightly coloured jackets and knee-high boots, Apfel proves that the ability to be stylish has nothing to do with age. Her bold reclamation of societies expectation of what old age is meant to be is not only refreshing but an inspirational outlook on what’s to come.

In 2015, a documentary was made about her life and she quickly found even more fame than she already had. In 2018, Mattel made Apfel her own Barbie doll dressed in a fabulous green pantsuit and of course, modelling Apfel’s signature oversized glasses. In 2019, she signed a modelling contract with IMG and began a lucrative career partnering with fashion brands. Only days before her 100th birthday, Apfel released The Iris Apfel Zentennial Collection with Zenni Optical.

Proving that age really is just a number, there’s almost nothing this centenarian hasn’t done.

Image: Iris Apfel and the Barbie doll version of herself

Want to read more about the fashion greats? Read more about Azzedine Alaïa, Valentino Garavani and Cristobal Balenciaga.

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