Iris Apfel, Fashion Icon Known for Her Vibrant and Eclectic Style, Passes Away at 102

Iris Apfel, Fashion Icon Known for Her Vibrant and Eclectic Style, Passes Away at 102

Iris Apfel, Fashion Icon Known for Her Vibrant and Eclectic Style, Passes Away at 102

Bollywoodfever, March 2: Iris Apfel, who emerged as a celebrated designer, fashion icon, influencer, and the face of numerous fashion brands in her later years, passed away at her Palm Beach, Florida, residence on Friday, at the age of 102.

A spokesperson for Apfel announced her passing was due to natural causes, in the comfort of her home and surrounded by her devoted caregivers.

Born on August 29, 1921, in Astoria, Queens, Apfel was the widow of Carl Apfel, who passed away in 2015 at the age of 100.

The Apfels, who had residences in both Palm Beach and Manhattan’s Upper East Side, were a notable couple in the design and fashion spheres. Iris, an only child, leaves behind no direct descendants.

Iris Apfel, Fashion Icon Known for Her Vibrant and Eclectic Style, Passes Away at 102

Together with her husband, Apfel founded Old World Weavers, a textile company, in 1950 and continued to operate it until its sale in 1992.

Her illustrious career spanned several decades, during which she contributed to nine restoration projects at the White House.

In recent years, she also featured in advertising campaigns for high-profile brands such as Kate Spade, MAC Cosmetics, Alexis Bittar, HSN, and Le Bon Marché.

Her contributions to White House interiors across the administrations of Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton earned her the moniker “First Lady of Fabric.”

Throughout her life, Iris Apfel journeyed across the globe, nurturing a deep-seated love for flea markets. This passion not only inspired her creative endeavors but also fueled her extensive collection of fashion, furniture, jewelry, antiques, and accessories.

Many of these unique finds were incorporated into her work as an interior designer for esteemed clients such as Estee Lauder and Greta Garbo.

Apfel’s approach to style was characterized by her fearless embrace of color, patterns, textures, and bold statements. “I’m a color person. I’ve never been one to play it safe,” she remarked in a 2012 interview with WWD.

Known for her distinctive oversized glasses, vibrant red lipstick, and signature cropped white hair, Apfel’s reputation as a fashion icon only grew stronger with time.

Marking her 100th birthday, she collaborated with H&M on a special capsule collection, and her partnerships over the years have spanned jewelry, eyewear, handbags, and fashion with major retailers, including Macy’s and even a Barbie Collector doll styled in her image.

Apfel’s career was punctuated regularly with new collaborations or advertising campaigns, showcasing her relentless energy and presence in the fashion world.

“I’m so busy, I’m like a crazy person. I love to work,” Apfel shared with WWD in 2018, especially after the loss of her “darling husband.” The couple’s shared life in business and personal matters made his passing profoundly impactful. “I did it to keep my sanity,” she explained.

Despite her longstanding recognition in the industry, Apfel described herself as “a very private person,” and her fame in later years was something she had to adjust to. “The accolades, the attention, and the recognition, which is global now, are quite something,” she admitted in 2018.

In 2019, at the age of 97, Apfel was signed by IMG for worldwide representation in modeling, appearances, and endorsements, a move that excited her greatly. “I never had a proper agent,” she told WWD, having managed her deals independently before.

“I’m a do-it-yourself girl. I never expected my life would take this turn, so I never prepared for it. It all just happened so suddenly,” she reflected. Apfel credited Tommy Hilfiger for the connection, expressing her excitement and gratitude for this new chapter in her life.

Tommy Hilfiger, reached for comment on Friday night, shared, “Dee and I were incredibly fortunate to have met and spent time with Iris over the past few years, both in Palm Beach and New York.

She was a true inspiration, possessing impeccable style and a profound love and understanding for all aspects of fashion. Iris had a remarkable presence and charisma, captivating everyone around her.

We feel honored to have been involved in her mentoring initiatives for fashion students at the University of Texas, where she made a significant impact. Her passing is a tremendous loss to the fashion world.”

In addition to her fashion influence, Iris Apfel’s philanthropic efforts were recognized when the Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, dedicated the Iris and Carl Apfel wing in 2019.

A decade earlier, the museum hosted “Rare Bird and Fashion Icon: The Irreverent Iris Apfel,” showcasing 90 of Apfel’s fashion sets and over 1,000 pieces, including outfits worn by her late husband.

This diverse collection inspired many, including Anna Sui, who admired the 19th-century harem jewelry featured in Apfel’s exhibition before her travels to Syria.

However, it was the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2005 exhibition, “Rara Avis: Selections from the Iris Apfel Collection,” at the Costume Institute, that significantly boosted her fame.

This exhibition, highlighting Apfel’s unique collection of clothing and jewelry, marked her as the first living non-designer to receive such recognition at the Costume Institute.

This exposure led to her being the focus of the 2015 documentary “Iris,” directed by Albert Maysles, and her appearance in the 2017 HBO documentary “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast.” In 2018, Apfel published her first book, “Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon, Musings of a Geriatric Starlet,” offering a vibrant compilation of thoughts, photographs, and illustrations.

Apfel expressed her disdain for self-help books in a 2018 interview with WWD, finding them somewhat offensive. “It’s not my place to dictate how you should dress or what you should do.

I believe that should be a personal decision,” she stated, emphasizing the importance of individuality in fashion and life choices.

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