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Iris Apfel in Living Color
By Phebe Wahl | Photo: Courtesy of Grandin Road | July 23, 2018
As vibrant as ever, Iris Apfel shows no signs of slowing down, counting a color-saturated furniture collection, a splashy new tome and myriad other projects as only her most recent endeavors.
“I love what I do,” declares Iris Apfel. “I’m passionate about it, so I guess that’s a good energy feeder.” Earlier this year, the 96-year-old partnered with Grandin Road on a home collection of nearly 50 products rife with colorful furniture, decor, artwork, and tabletop and entertaining pieces.
Although Apfel is revered as an intensely adored and adorned fashion icon, she’s no stranger to interior design. In 1950, the bespectacled Apfel co-founded Old World Weavers, which specialized in restoration furnishings, even creating fabrics for the White House for nine sitting presidents. “In the fashion world, I always tell people to have fun with their looks and styles; it is no different for their homes,” she says. “Enjoy your spaces and celebrate them through your own beautiful style.”
Throughout her impressive career, Apfel has launched more than most do in a lifetime, counting both clothing and home collections on HSN among huge successes. In March, her new book, Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon ($35, Harper Design), released and was filled with pages of previously unpublished personal photographs and mementos—all punctuated by her hallmark anecdotes and style musings.
Apfel attributes her enduring success to a focus on style and substance, rather than the distraction of passing trends. “I don’t follow trends; I don’t like trends,” she says. “I like people who discover who they are.” A rule Apfel has followed from an early age: “I’ve been collecting fashion jewelry or costume jewelry—whatever they call it these days—since I was 11 years old. I’m now 96, so do the arithmetic.”
For Apfel, her trademark style and affinity for color has always translated organically into interiors. “Real style, I think, is in your DNA. Either you’ve got it or you haven’t got it. If you’ve got it, you’ve [still] got to work at it. It’s not going to just happen.” She adds: “Whether it’s style or fashion, I like to give people things that are a bit offbeat.”