Interior designer Iris Apfel dies aged 102

American interior designer, fashion influencer and “geriatric starlet” Iris Apfel has passed away at the age of 102.

The death of the multidisciplinary creative, who was recognised for her flamboyant personal style, was announced on her Instagram account with an image of Apfel in her trademark oversized glasses.

Apfel, who worked in the interiors and fashion industries throughout her career, shot to international fame in her 80s and 90s after New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibited a show of her eclectic clothes and accessories in 2005.

Titled Rara Avis: Selections From the Iris Apfel Collection, it was the first time the museum had dedicated an exhibition to someone’s wardrobe.

Born Iris Barrel in 1921 in Queens, Apfel studied art history at New York University and art at the University of Wisconsin.

After graduating, she worked for fashion magazine Women’s Wear Daily before interning for interior designer Elinor Johnson.

Together with her late husband Carl Apfel, whom she married in 1948, she set up the brand Old World Weavers – a company that specialised in striking textiles informed by things found on the Apfels’ travels.

Under Old World Weavers, the duo completed high-profile projects such as restoring the White House interiors for nine presidents including Harry Truman and Bill Clinton.

The designer became a visiting lecturer at the University of Texas in 2011, where she taught fashion students about textiles and crafts.

In later life, Apfel became a staple of the fashion industry.  In 2018, toy manufacturer Mattel created a Barbie doll in the designer’s image, although it was not for sale. At the age of 97, she signed a modelling contract with IMG Models.

Apfel playfully called herself a “geriatric starlet” and described the prospect of retirement as “a fate worse than death” shortly after turning 100.

Following the news of her passing, designers around the world paid tribute to Apfel’s legacy. “Iris Apfel has become a world-famous fashion icon because of her incredible talent not only as an artist but as an influencer,” said fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger.

The photography is by Ron Adar courtesy of Shutterstock.

Source: Rooms -


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