#RespectYourElders: Known for her bold sense of style, Iris Apfel (born 1921) is the 94-year-old American fashion icon whose career is still going strong.
Apfel was born and raised in Queens, New York, and studied art history at New York University before attending art school at the University of Wisconsin. She married her husband, Carl, in 1948, and two years later they opened the textile firm Old World Weavers, which they ran for 42 years. Their business allowed Apfel to travel the world, collecting clothing and textiles as she went. The garments she saw in her travels, including in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, inspired her unique fashion sense.
Throughout her career, Apfel has worked on numerous furnishing restoration projects, including at the White House for nine different presidents. Her collections have appeared in several museum exhibitions. The Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History in Beach County, Florida is developing a gallery dedicated to Apfel’s clothes, accessories and furnishings.
What is perhaps most remarkable about Apfel is her ceaseless energy and commitment to her career. She was a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin in 2012 at age 90, and in 2013 was listed as one of the “50 Best Dressed over-50s” by “The Guardian.”
In 2014, Apfel became the star of a documentary about her life titled “Iris.” Directed by Albert Maysles, it explores what inspires her fashion and design choices and showcases her great wit. The film is available on Netflix.
This year, Apfel hasn’t slowed down one bit. Not only is she launching a mod-inspired collection at Macy’s in September, she is also probably one of the only 94-year-olds with her own line of emojis.
Want to know more about Apfel and see some of her work? Check out the trailer for the documentary “Iris” on Youtube.