Tuesday, March 8, 2016

An Ode to Iris Apfel

After I watched Iris, a documentary about the 94-years-old style icon Iris Apfel, I was seriously impressed by her personality and style, and all that she taught me about style and even life in not even 1,5 hour. Iris Apfel is the most inspiring woman. People say she’s a “rare bird”, perhaps because her style and appearance are so admirably unique and rarely seen, especially in someone over 60, let alone in a 94-year-old!, or perhaps just because her well known huge spectacles and sometimes fluffy coats make her look like a life-size bird, the only one of its kind.

The way her personality and style are so intertwined is incredible. This is not very surprising as in her opinion “style is attitude” and “style comes from within, while fashion comes from without”. Isn’t that the truest thing you’ve ever heard? Throughout the documentary she’s preaching about the importance of individuality and how it is all gone in people nowadays, which made me feel almost guilty about my generation. She quite accurately says, “In Manhattan, they think they’re stylish, but they all wear black. That’s not really style. That’s a uniform.” She continuously tells you to be yourself and standout, basically all that I wished someone would have told me, but no one ever did because in this society, being different is still obnoxious, whether you are homosexual or black or Muslim or dressed in a way that is not currently considered fashionably, and that has always been so frustrating to me, but now it really gets to me when a woman who has walked this earth for so many years (she may have been the first woman to ever wear denim jeans!) and is so sophisticated in her lessons of life, is saying these truths so straight forward that I’m asking myself how is all she says so objected in this society while it’s no more than the truth? It makes me realize that she is not just a style icon, but she’s an expert at life as well.

When it comes to fashion, I’m very astonished by the fact that she can literally pull off anything. Is it just her straight and tall posture, or is it the expression of her inner self through her style that makes everything look so good? To her, the process of getting dressed is what’s it all about. The process and the experience. Creating and combining. And with that, it’s all about doing what feels good. There are no rules! “Because I would only be breaking them” she says. Most importantly, it’s all about having fun. The exhibitions she does with her exceptionally large collection of jewellery, clothing and haute couture pieces, that she has collected over so many years, is all because she enjoys it so much. Plus amusing people with it is also fun. Just like getting dressed is fun. “Life is grey and dull; you might as well have a little fun when you dress.”

And it’s not just fashion. Iris Apfel is a ‘busy bee’. With 94 years old, she is continuously working on projects, receiving phone calls and hitting the road. It doesn’t matter what she does, she does it in her own way. And in everything she does, she can see how it’s all effected by each other. I think one of her most inspirational quotes was the following: “Everything is interrelated: politics and economic and science and fashion are all part of the same.”

In her life, Iris has travelled so much around the world, seen so many different cultures, and definitely got influenced by them, in her style as well. She owns many beautiful pieces of clothing from all these different parts of the world, which sometimes give her an ethnic type of look that I probably like best. One of my favourite parts of this documentary is that they put actual video recordings filmed by Iris’ husband Carl (who recently passed away after 67 years of marriage) during their trips over the world in it, as well as the pictures he took while carrying three different cameras around all the time (as seen above). It makes Iris’ life seem even richer. I love how her husband admires her so much. They seemed to have this marriage so full of love, and as they were sharing their life not only in their marriage but also as business partners, they made this adorable, powerful couple. Sometimes they seemed like teenage lovebirds, when she asks him “How does this look?” when she pulls out a dress, asking him for his advice, or when she buys him a blouse that he doesn’t like that much so she ends up wearing it herself. They were filmed holding hands in the car together, and I think it’s so beautiful to see how a 100-year-old man can be still so in love with his wife.

I’ve always sort of thought that my life would be over after 30 years old, but when I look at Iris I realize it’s not like that at all. She’s 94 years old and more successful than ever. And I’m so surprised about how physically well she still is, even at this age, and still running around, living her life. According to her nephew, there’s no sitting down and just being old and gray, because that’s just the way she is. She needs to do something. I think she is a true example of the beauty of aging. 

You should definitely watch this documentary. It's on Netflix now.


  1. Jaaa, zo'n inspirerende vrouw en stijl. Heb al eens vaker foto's van haar voorbij zien komen, echt enorm indrukwekkend. Zo tof dat ze dat gewoon doet/durft, wauw!

  2. Jeetje wat een mooie post! De foto's erg inspirerend:)


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