Orange would not be the new black for Iris Apfel, who wore that color in fur for the movie premiere of Iris last week at the Paris Theater: the brighter the better, it was practically neon, and contrasted with saucer-sized turquoise beads. The outfit would be unusual for anyone, let alone the 93-year-old "geriatric starlet" Iris Apfel whose resume includes textile designer, model and now professor of fashion for students from The University of Texas, Austin. The students come to New York to learn "real" lessons about the glamorous world of fashion from this style icon: what's trending, licensing, history; Iris complains that designers today do not know how to sew, a craft like beading near lost. Iris teaches the business side often omitted in the traditional curriculum. She knows from what she speaks, having had a giant successful show at the Metropolitan Museum, an honor normally accorded to high profile designers with world careers like Alexander McQueen or Jean-Paul Gaultier. She can put together ensembles most could never concoct, matching fantastic fabrics with highend designer dresses with street fare, but her specialty is layered bangles and neckpieces.
The afterparty at Southgate included many from the world of documentary filmmaking to remember the life of Albert Maysles, who made this movie, his last in an extraordinary career. The fashion world came too, to worship at Iris' feet. Some were dressed to kill, like one man clad in a pink lamee trench coat. But Iris is always the best dressed in the room. Mindy Grossman, CEO of Home Shopping Network, wearing bangles from wrists to elbows a la Iris said, "I met Iris and fell in love immediately. We convinced her to create an accessory collection for HSN! She debuted her collection when she was 90 and is still going strong!" Iris is also designing for MAC Cosmetics. When I spoke to Iris about what she thought of all this attention, she said quite frankly, "I'm tired. I want to go home," well before her handlers helped her leave the sumptuous dinner party.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.
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