ICONS: Iris Apfel “More is more & less is a bore”

ICONS: Iris Apfel “More is more & less is a bore”

ICONS: Iris Apfel “More is more & less is a bore”


Discover the individuals that have shaped the Firm’s creative director and designer’s aesthetics, philosophy and work in the series ICONS.

She advised nine USA presidents about interior designer, but her media power has little to do with her profession.

Old World Weavers is the name of the textile company that Iris Apfel, born 1921, ruled with her husband for 42 years, from 1950 to 1992. Their job led them to get to know some of the most important personalities of the moment, and to the most remote points on Earth in search of fabrics, materials and inspiration for their projects.

It was on these trips that Apfel began collecting accessories of all kinds and started creating her eclectic and extravagant style. “More is more and less is a bore” was, and still is, her motto. The big round glasses, the red lips and the white hair are her distinguishing marks (she even has her own Barbie with these features). The volumes, textures, prints and colours, with dozens and dozens of necklaces and bracelets, are her fashion staples.

The hypnotic appeal of the designer pieces such as Lanvin, Chanel, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana or Nina Ricci that Apfel combines with imitation jewelry, second hand and non-western traditional accessories, was recognized by the MET of New York, that offered a retrospective about her vast personal collection in 2005.

The exhibition,  the museum’s first time showcasing clothing and accessories focused on a living person who wasn’t a designer, was a resounding success and put her in the eye of publishers and designers. The 2014 Iris documentary by director Albert Maysles was the final push, imposing her, at 84 years old, as a fashion icon worldwide.

Always jovial and bright, Apfel enjoys this unexpected media effervescence, that has led her to work with media, all kinds of brands, even lecturing at universities.

“Suddenly I have become a geriatric starlet. My husband and I laugh a lot with the situation. I have been doing this all my life and now I find lots of magazines, especially European, that are writing about me. But I am not doing anything other than what I have been doing for the past 70 years!”

Images: Metmuseum | Daniela Federici