By now I think we are all familiar with the irreverent style maven Iris Apfel. And I’m sure you’ve heard about her new documentary Iris. Well, we here at Ulla have always been been in love with her fearless style, quick wit and overall determination to go against the grain. So we thought we’d pay homage to the best dressed woman around with these Face a Face sunglasses currently stored here at Ulla Eyewear. Thank you Iris for showing us that great style is available at all ages… if you’re willing to take the risk.
Want to know more about Iris? Here’s an excerpt from her recent Vanity Fair interview.
Nothing I ever did I expected to do,” Iris Apfel, the eclectic New York style icon, explains in Iris, a new documentary by Albert Maysles. “It just kind of happened.” At 93, Apfel has become our leading ambassador for the fashion of chance: the idea that good taste isn’t aspirational but realized on the fly, that more can be done with well-layered costume jewelry and a one-of-a-kind poncho than with all the season’s must-have fare. “I like to improvise,” she confesses near the start of the film, which assembles footage from her life in fittingly kaleidoscopic patterns. For Apfel, getting dressed is a creative act—like playing jazz, she says—and the unexplored expanses of the world are a sourcebook to fill her closets. It’s a sartorial safari seen through round, rose-colored glasses, and it looks, most of the time, like wild fun.
Apfel was well into her eighties when she became an It girl; it wasn’t until a 2005 exhibition at the Costume Institute that she became publicly known. Years before that, though, her style sense had earned her a quiet following among the arbiters of taste. Shortly after her marriage to her husband, Carl—“He was cool, he was cuddly, and he cooked Chinese, so I couldn’t do any better,” she said—the couple founded Old World Weavers, an interior-design firm that redecorated the White House under presidents Truman to Clinton. To source the unique art and fabrics for which they were known, they traveled widely. Even since retiring, Apfel continues to make rounds close to home. In Maysles’s film, we watch her haggling for bracelets in Harlem—she only wants the cheap ones, three for twenty dollars—and commuting between New York City and Florida, sometimes taking fifty phone calls a day. We learn how she arranges mannequins in her own image (layered jewelry, pattern contrasts) and sells accessories on the Home Shopping Network. (“Color can raise the dead!”) Most of all, we start to understand the mind behind the brazen taste. Where other style icons are sometimes prescriptive and arch, Apfel finds beauty in individuality, however offbeat. Real fashion isn’t about pleasing the people around you, she says, but about pleasing yourself: “It’s better to be happy than to be well-dressed.”