Iris Apfel | Biography

Interior designer, fashionista, businesswoman and accessories collector, American born Iris Apfel is an age defying iconic personality in the fashion world. A decades long fashion icon and queen of collecting, Iris who is in her early nineties now, has always been a long-lived woman in interior design and fashion. She was born on August 29, 1921 and started her career working for designers like Elinor Johnson. She was the co-owner of her own company Old World Weavers for over four decades and is renowned for having worked in the White House renovations for as many as nine presidents.

Iris and the love of her life, her husband Carl Apfel ran a successful textile business for more than forty years. The long time lovers wedded in 1948 and have been happily married for almost sixty five years. A geriatric starlet, as she likes to refer to herself, she has been posing as a muse to several designers and magazine writers. She and husband have travelled the world and both have been living eccentrically busy lives which have left no room for children. Iris was born in Astoria, Queens, New York as Iris Barrel to Samuel and Sadye Barrel. She always inclined towards the artistic elements and has been a devout collector of rare and beautiful things since she was eleven. She graduated from New York University studying art history and went to the University of Wisconsin to attend the art school at the campus.

When she was much younger, Iris was employed at Women’s Wear Daily. She was an apprentice for Elinor Johnson and Robert Goodman in her early career. Two years following her wedding, she and her husband created Old World Weavers, a textile company, in 1950 and operated their firm until 1992 after which they both went into retirement. Besides running the fruitful textile business, Iris also made a name for herself by taking on high profile designing projects. She is majorly famous in the world of interior design for her part in the restoration of the White House. She has worked in the designing projects at the White House multiple times during the terms of nine presidents including Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Harry S. Truman. The aging legend is a favorite of designers like Duro Olowu and Issac Mizrahi and has been a photography muse for Bruce Weber. She has been admired in national publications like Paper, New York Times and Vogue. The popularity of Iris seems to have only increased bountifully in her later years.  She was invited to teach at the University of Texas at Austin in 2012 when she was ninety and in 2013 she made it to the list of the 50 best dressed people over 50 composed by The Guardian. Also in 2005, in New York City, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Stephane Houy-Towner launched an exhibition which was titled Rara Avis( Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel on September 13 reminiscing the unique style of Iris. The exhibition also travelled to Norton Museum of Art, the Nassau County Museum of Art and Peabody Essex Museum.

Iris has also worked with MAC Cosmetics for her own line of makeup. She has also been working with Eye-Bobs, Home Shopping, YOOX and other brands lately. Over the decades, Iris has collected hundreds of unique and timeless pieces of art

The generation of present time has a lot to learn from the celebrated style icon, Iris Apfel. Not only is Iris a veteran of the fashion world,  but she has been here long enough to be more than familiar with the ins and outs of style.

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