Iris Apfel might just be the hardest working fashionista today. Certainly the hardest-working 96-year-old! In the past three days, the collector-influencer-model-stylist-author and gal-about-town worked her Vintage@Coterie booth selling her Iris Apfel Collection, spent hours signing books at [pre]COTERIE, and even got up on stage at the black-tie ACE Awards Monday night to present an award. All with numerous outfit changes in between! (Her turquoise pants, turquoise mongolian fur jacket and matching turquoise accessories are proof that no one does head-to-toe monochrome quite like Iris).
I sat down with the best-selling author of “Accidental Icon: Musings of a Geriatric Starlet” at [pre]COTERIE to squeeze out a few words of wisdom before she rushed off to further points vintage. As always, her candor and spirit made me smile.
Iris, can we do a quick interview right now in your booth?
Well it better be quick because I want to go shopping!
Your life is so exciting now! Everyone wants to see what you’re doing, wearing, and hear what you’re saying. How’s your new book doing?
Oh, it’s been incredible! It came out in March and as of a few weeks ago, it’s already in a second printing! Everyone has been so nice. Here, on Sunday, I sold over 200 books and autographed them! We wanted more, so we went back to the publisher and got everything they had on hand. We got another 75. They’re really going like hotcakes.
Let’s get some quotes from your book. How about on Color?
“In the proper tonality, I never met a color I didn’t like”
“I’ve always said that the world today is so gray that we need color more than ever.”
“Color is a living, breathing thing.”
“And let’s face it, life can be dull; you might as well have a little fun with color when you dress!”
At 96, you’re certainly an inspiration to women of a certain age, but what’s been so amazing is how all these young girls are so enamored with you! Who says young people are ageist?
I have an incredible fan base. It starts with kids in grade school. I have 6-year-old fans that make their grandparents buy the books. It’s ridiculous! I even have men (not just the drag queens who buy my jewelry…which I love), but I mean, straight guys are fans!
My husband and even my son love you! And he’s 8! I think you’re really helping people accessorize in a maximalist way! Do you look around and thing everyone is just dressing too minimally?
I don’t like a minimalist look for myself. I like stuff; I like being surrounded by a lot of things that give me pleasure to look at. As I always say ‘More is more and less is a bore.’
Do you think you inspire people to pile it on more?
I do help people get their fashion sense of the box.
You obviously do fashion your own way, and have for decades. How can the next generation get inspired?
I think the new generation is growing up without a spirit and without a soul. They don’t live internally at all. They live vicariously through the internet and social media.
Well, social media is a double-edged sword, because without it, they wouldn’t have such access to you or your incredible style.
Well, of course, everything is a double-edged sword. But it’s so terrible to have a younger generation who can’t read, can’t write, has no curiosity, can’t carry on a conversation.
Don’t hold back, Iris! Say what you really mean!
Your jewelry style is amazing, as is your personal collection. Do people, young or old, say they’re inspired to accessorize with more jewelry because of you?
Oh yes! I revitalized the entire jewelry industry! Not to brag or anything…