If you’re not already familiar with Iris Apfel, here’s a crash course: She’s actually the most stylish and busiest 93-year-old in the fashion world. Some résumé highlights include a Kate Spade modeling campaign with Karlie Kloss, an accessories line for HSN, her own mentorship program with students from the University of Texas and a new documentary, Iris.
While Apfel isn’t a total stranger to the documentary-game (you may have seen her cameos in other fashion profiles like Bill Cunningham: New York and Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s), this marks the first time the cameras are solely on her — and it definitely took some convincing.
“When he [director, Albert Maysles] called me, I refused. I wasn’t interested at all in doing a documentary,” Apfel tells PEOPLE. “I was not a public figure.”
But with the help of friends, like Linda Fargo (Bergdorf Goodman’s Senior Vice President who also starred in Scatter My Ashes), Iris gave in. “[Fargo] said ‘What the hell is wrong with you? People would drop dead just to have Albert take a photograph of you,’ ” she shares.
Aside from her documentary, we also chatted with the tastemaker about her wide-frame specs, who she looks to for fashion advice and the one item she’s held on to for more than 60 years! Catch the highlights below.
Glasses have always been her ‘It’ accessory
“Ever since I was a little kid, I was a flea market freak and every time I saw an odd-ball frame, I bought them. Sometimes, even if I didn’t need to wear lenses, I’d put the frames on because I liked how they looked. And when the day came when I had to wear glasses, I said, if you have to wear glasses, you might as well wear glasses! People would say to me, ‘Why are they so large?’ and I would say because they are better to see you. And that would shut them up.”
She has a great sense of humor
“I always tell people I’m very large in Uzbekistan.” (Editor’s note: She was mobbed at the Brazil airport last year!)
She doesn’t have any current style icons
“Years ago I was influenced by my mother who was extremely chic and by Pauline de Rothschild and Millicent Rogers. Nobody is original anymore. Nobody has any original style.”
She saves clothes that have sentimental value
“I still have the dress I wore on my first date with Carl [her husband], 68 years ago. It still fits, it’s a Norell and I love it dearly.”
She has one word for Botox
What do you think of Apfel’s style? Are you going to see her new documentary? Share in the comments below.
–Colleen Kratofil, with reporting by Gail Nussbaum
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