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Sad News: Fashion Staple & Fashion Icon Iris Apfel Has Died at 102


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Iris Apfel, a trailblazer in textiles and an emblem of eclectic fashion, passed away at her Palm Beach home at the age of 102. Her departure marks the end of an era for the fashion world and beyond, leaving behind a legacy that transcends generations. Stu Loeser, a spokesperson for Apfel’s estate, confirmed the sad news of her passing.

Apfel’s journey from a White House textile veteran to a centenarian style icon is a narrative of unparalleled creativity and boldness. Her life, adorned with vibrant colors, daring patterns, and an unwavering zest for the unique, was a testament to living fully and authentically. “I like big and bold and a lot of pizzazz,” Apfel once declared, a statement that perfectly encapsulates her approach to both fashion and life.

Her story was compellingly captured in the 2014 Emmy Award-nominated documentary “Iris” by the late Albert Maysles. The film showcased Apfel’s knack for negotiating in Harlem, her eye for whimsical treasures, and her candid opinions on the modern fashion industry. Beyond her on-screen presence, Apfel’s influence extended into academia, collaborations with brands like MAC Cosmetics, and even the CFDA, where she presented an award to designer Alexander Wang.

Apfel’s impact on fashion and culture cannot be overstated. In 2018, she modeled for Vogue and became the muse for a Mattel Barbie doll, embodying her iconic style. By 97, she signed a modeling contract with IMG, a move that punctuated her status as an age-defying icon. Her philosophy that “more is more and less is a bore” resonated with many, encouraging a fearless expression of individuality.

Her personal style, characterized by bold accessories, striking eyewear, and an eclectic mix of textures and patterns, made her a regular fixture in fashion’s front row and a subject of admiration on magazine covers worldwide. Apfel’s approach to dressing was likened to the art of montage, a fitting analogy for a woman who crafted her appearance with as much care and creativity as a filmmaker does a film.

Before becoming a public figure, Apfel and her husband Carl founded Old World Weavers in 1950, contributing to the restoration of fabrics and furniture for the White House under nine different administrations. However, it was her unique personal style, rather than her professional accomplishments, that eventually catapulted her into the limelight.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute recognized Apfel’s extraordinary contribution to fashion by showcasing 40 pieces from her personal collection in 2005. The exhibit, “Rara Avis: The Irreverent Iris Apfel,” not only celebrated her unique aesthetic but also solidified her status as a fashion icon. Despite her age, Apfel remained a figure of inspiration, proving that style knows no boundaries and that true fashion is about embracing one’s individuality with confidence and grace.

Iris Apfel’s legacy is a colorful tapestry woven from her fearless fashion choices, her sharp wit, and her unwavering commitment to being herself. In a world often constrained by trends and expectations, Apfel stood out as a beacon of authenticity and creativity, inspiring generations to come. Her life was a reminder that fashion is not just about clothes; it’s a form of self-expression, a way to communicate who we are without saying a word. As the fashion world mourns the loss of Iris Apfel, her indelible mark on the industry and her message of fearless self-expression will undoubtedly endure.

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