I had been planning to do a post on Iris Apfel for a while, and when I read that she had been honoured with the Global Style Icon Award at the inaugural WGSN Fashion Awards, I realised that I must.
Iris is quite simply one of the most stylish women in the world, and I personally find her incredibly inspirational.
Although I’m naturally inclined towards an eclectic, colourful and slightly bohemian-vintage style of dressing, the current obsession with pared back minimalism has had me gazing into my wardrobe and doubting my cacophony of prints, abundance of sparkles, and overall lack of sensible style staples. But when I look at pictures of wonderful Iris I am convinced that nothing beats an arty and artful, playful and, most crucially, an original sense of style.
Iris read Art History at New York Univeristy and attended art school in Wisonsin – so that explains the mad art teacher/crazy curator blend which is thrown into the mix…
Even though she’s been a source of inspiration to legions of fashion designers, there is something defiantly anti-fashion about her idiosyncratic mode of dressing. It’s the same for many style icons really- they have the confidence and the vision to step off the fashion treadmill, and that’s something I really admire.
In Iris’ case I’m sure it also has something to do with her work as an interior designer – for Elinor Johnson in her youth, and on many restoration projects including work for nine presidents at The White House. The timeless, eclecticism which is a hallmark of great interior design is also evident in the way she ‘furnishes’ her body.
It’s also said that great style icons have a formula or signature that they make their own; and although the charm and appeal of Iris’ look is that it appears to have been joyously and effortlessly thrown together, her statement glasses (long, long before the hoards of slightly half-hearted hipster clones), and her wild abandon with accessories are both crucial to the overall effect.
Of course, as a jewellery fanatic myself, I find her evident passion for baubles and bangles (a la Nancy Cunard- another fashion heartthrob of mine) particularly appealing. In fact I can see some Mawi pieces slotting into her collection and look perfectly!
In 1948 Iris married Carl Apfel, and they went on to found the textile company Old World Weavers. Although I’m basing this on nothing more than society snapshots, I find the apparent easy intimacy of their relationship incredibly charming. I’m also a big fan of Carl’s signature horn-rimmed spectacles and bow-tie combo.
I wonder how much help he gets from Iris?…
The coolest, chicest couple in the world?
Who would you nominate for a Global Style Icon Award?
By Lucy Archibald