Iris Apfel, fashion icon known for her eye-catching style, dies at 102

Iris Apfel, fashion icon known for her eye-catching style, dies at 102

Fashion icon Iris Apfel dies at age 102

At the age of 102, fashion icon Iris Apfel has passed away.

Iris Apfel, a renowned textile specialist, interior decorator, and fashion icon recognized for her unique sense of style, has passed away at the age of 102.

Lori Sale, the commercial agent of Apfel, confirmed her passing and described her as “remarkable.” No reason for her death was disclosed. This news was also shared on Apfel’s official Instagram page on Friday, the same account that had recently celebrated her 102nd-and-a-half birthday on Leap Day.

On August 29, 1921, Apfel gained recognition for her bold and whimsical fashion sense, often combining high-end fashion with large and unique statement jewelry. A typical Apfel ensemble might include a feather boa, chunky beads, bangles, and a jacket adorned with authentic Native American beadwork.

She caught everyone’s attention at every fashion show she went to with her distinctive style which included large circular glasses with black frames, a bold red lip, and short white hair.

Iris’s fashion was featured in museum displays and a film, “Iris,” directed by Albert Maysles.

“I may not be conventionally attractive and I accept that, but it’s inconsequential,” she declared. “What I possess is far greater – a unique sense of style.”

Iris Apfel takes her seat before the Serena Williams Signature Statement Spring 2017 collection is modeled during Fashion Week in New York, Monday, Sept. 12, 2016.

On Monday, September 12, 2016, Iris Apfel sat down to watch the Fashion Week in New York City, as models showcased the Serena Williams Signature Statement Spring 2017 collection.

Seth Wenig / AP

Apfel gained popularity on social media in her later years, gaining almost 3 million followers on Instagram. Her profile states, “Excess is the way to go, simplicity is mundane.” She also acquired 215,000 followers on TikTok, where she shared insight on fashion and style and advertised recent partnerships.

In a TikTok video, the speaker stated that there is a distinct difference between being stylish and being fashionable. She pointed out that one can simply purchase fashionable items, but style is something inherent in a person’s DNA. It encompasses individuality and boldness.

She never stopped working, stating on “Today”: “I believe that retiring at any age is a worse fate than death. Simply reaching a specific age does not mean you have to stop.”

“Having the opportunity to work with her was a great honor. I will deeply miss her regular calls, which often began with her asking, ‘What do you have for me today?’ This question displayed her never-ending drive and passion for her work. She was truly a visionary in every aspect, viewing the world through a one-of-a-kind perspective, accentuated by her trademark oversized glasses perched on her nose.”

Apfel was a renowned authority on fabrics and historic textiles. Alongside her spouse Carl, she was the proprietor of Old World Weavers, a manufacturing establishment that focused on restoration efforts. This included numerous ventures at the White House, serving a total of six U.S. presidents. Among Apfel’s notable clientele were renowned figures such as Estee Lauder and Greta Garbo.

In 2005, Apfel gained widespread recognition when the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City featured an exhibition of her work titled “Rara Avis,” meaning “rare bird” in Latin. The museum praised her unique and lively sense of style.

She shows her unique style by combining expensive Dior haute couture pieces with items she finds at flea markets, and pairing 19th-century church garments with trendy Dolce & Gabbana lizard trousers. The museum described her daring and unconventional fashion choices as a mix of traditional and modern, breaking aesthetic norms and showcasing a bold, graphic look.

The Peabody Essex Museum, located in Salem, Massachusetts, was among the numerous museums across the nation to feature a traveling exhibit of the show. Apfel ultimately chose to contribute hundreds of items to the Peabody, including high-end dresses, to aid in their creation of a remarkable fashion collection. The Museum of Fashion & Lifestyle, situated near Apfel’s winter residence in Palm Beach, Florida, also intends to showcase pieces from her personal collection in a dedicated gallery space.

Apfel was born in New York City to Samuel and Sadye Barrel. Her mother was the owner of a boutique.

In her later years, Apfel became well-known for promoting brands such as M.A.C. cosmetics and Kate Spade. She also created her own line of jewelry and accessories for the Home Shopping Network, collaborated with H&M on a popular collection of vibrant clothing, jewelry, and footwear, launched a makeup line with Ciaté London, designed a collection of glasses with Zenni, and collaborated with Ruggable to create a line of floor coverings.

In 2017, at the age of 95, she expressed to AP that her preferred modern designers were Ralph Rucci, Isabel Toledo, and Naeem Khan. However, she also mentioned that she already has a lot of clothing and does not actively seek out new pieces. When asked for her fashion guidance, she emphasized the importance of each person finding their own personal style. She believes in individuality and does not follow trends, instead encouraging individuals to discover their unique look and preferences.

She referred to herself as the “unintentional figurehead,” which inspired the name of her 2018 book featuring her keepsakes and fashion reflections. There are numerous tributes to Apfel, including a Barbie doll modeled after her, T-shirts, glasses, artwork, and dolls.

Apple’s spouse passed away before her. They did not have any kids.