Style icon Iris Apfel dies at 102

Apfel, born on 29 August 1921, was famous for her irreverent, eye-catching outfits, mixing haute couture with accessible but OTT accessories

Iris Apfel (photo: @IrisBApfel/X)
Iris Apfel (photo: @IrisBApfel/X)

NH Digital

Iris Apfel, the White House textile veteran turned saucer-spectacled centenarian style icon, passed away at her home in Palm Beach, Florida on Friday, 1 March. She was 102.

According to the information revealed by her Instagram and X, Apfel passed away right after celebrating her 102.5th birthday.

Her agent Lori Sale did not reveal the cause of her death.

Even in her old age, Apfel had never stopped working and creating. Her oversized round glasses became her trademark and her style was so iconic, emojis were made in her likeness.

Even as a centenarian, Apfel never shied away from wearing extravagant clothes and eye-catching makeup. She coloured her hair light grey and chose to wear bright red, pink or orange lipstick.

When she turned 100, she was dubbed the "oldest teenager in the world", and at the time of her death, her Instagram account had more than 3 million followers.

Young fashion designers flocked around her wherever she appeared, whether at a gallery opening or a fashion show.

According to the Hindustan Times report, Sale said, "Working alongside her was the honour of a lifetime. I will miss her daily calls, always greeted with the familiar question: ‘What have you got for me today?.’ She was a visionary in every sense of the word. She saw the world through a unique lens — one adorned with giant, distinctive spectacles that sat atop her nose.”

Apfel, born in Queens, New York, on 29 August 1921, was famous for her irreverent, eye-catching outfits, mixing haute couture and oversized costume jewellery. 

She and her husband Carl had started Old World Weavers that restored fabrics for nine US presidents. Even though she never revealed too many details about working with them, she hinted at the fact that former first lady Jackie Kennedy was a rather challenging client.

Apfel presented her own collections with humor as well as meticulousness. She often added the finishing touch to a model's look — perhaps an extra necklace — before sending them out on the catwalk.

It wasn't until later in life that Apfel started working as a fashion designer. For decades, she was a successful interior designer who was in great demand among the rich and famous in the US.

Her style was the subject of museum exhibits and a documentary film, "Iris," directed by Albert Maysles.

She had 2.9 million followers on Instagram but expressed a disdain for social media.

Her guiding philosophy has also been widely quoted: "I don't have any rules, because I would only be breaking them, so it's a waste of time."

That was her recipe for success right from the start.

Apfel said she had ever subscribed to the motto, "less is more." She believed that following trends was unnecessary and that people should find their own unique style to express personality through clothing. As she liked to say: "More is more and less is a bore."

With DW inputs

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