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The 88 Year Old Rare Bird Of Fashion

March 30, 2010

Iris Apfel, at 88 has taken the style world by storm.  Many who went to see her exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, assumed she was dead.  That was five years ago.  At that time she instructed her nephew who made a habit of taking friends to see the exhibition:  “If you hear anyone say I’m dead, tell them,  “No, she’s very much alive and just walking around to save funeral expenses.'”

Apfel who winters in Palm Beach,  finds her cult status as very funny.  There she was, as she sees it, minding her own business.  The Costume Institute wanted to borrow some of her accessories and perhaps they should borrow some clothes to put them in context. “I said: “What would you like?'” Apfel recalls. “They said: “Well, we don’t know. That opened the Pandora’s box and they started to go through all the closets, all the drawers, armoires, boxes, things on top of the closets, and under the bed. They kept oohhing and ahhing as they dragging things out.  Before you knew it, all my furniture was pushed to the side and we had to buy 10 racks to hang stuff.”

In her 50’s she was a Decorator, at 88 she was recruited by the department store Nordstrom to style its Manhattan windows.  A self-described “geriatric starlet.”  Her book A Rare Bird Of Fashion includes an introduction by Harold Koda, director of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and an essay by Apfel herself, describing her lifelong love affair with style.  Apfel  theory about women’s fashion is; conventions and limitations are dictated by a women’s insecurities.  Apfel doesn’t feel constrained by her physique, she also doesn’t think one should reveal one’s upper arms after a certain age, nor should she wear girly, chiffony dresses.  She was recently featured in the New York Times Style article, Respect Your Elders and has appeared in Vogue and Vanity Fair’s Best Dressed list.

She is referred to as the  Queen of Boho and her exhibit was also celebrated at The Peabody Essex Museum, in Salem Massachusetts but ended in February.  Luckily for all of us, The Peabody Essex Museum has an interactive; Create your own Iris inspired paper dolls for your own special keepsake.

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more about “The Rare Bird Of Fashion“, posted with vodpod
Photo Credit:  Guardian UK
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