Style icon Iris Apfel has lived a rich tapestry of a life brimming with beautiful things. Perpetually draped in decadent mounds of eclectic, ethnic jewelry, Iris herself is a piece of art for whom moderation equals mundane, and her wardrobe is a celebration of color and texture. More is more in Iris’s world, and the “geriatric starlet,” as she calls herself, has coined an eccentric style that is unmistakable and truly inimitable.
She will turn 93 on Sunday. Tomorrow night, on the eve of her birthday, she is selling on OneKingsLane.com pieces from her exquisite personal collection of carefully-curated objects, ranging from furniture to apparel, and accessories for both the wardrobe and the home. Each piece has been evaluated with her discerning eye, and hand-picked during a lifetime of shopping around the world.
“I used to make two trips to Europe every year,” Iris said, “with at least 40-foot containers each time. I never missed an auction, every estate sale I could dig up, every time I heard of someone who wanted to sell something but they didn’t want to go public…and I really got wonderful things that way.” She continued, “But you can’t keep these things forever. And even if they’re yours, somebody once said to me, ‘You really never own anything on this planet. You just rent.’ I put so much love and attention into everything I’ve bought,” she said, and, speaking of her pieces as though they are living creatures, she added, “I hope that when someone buys something it goes to a good home where it’s loved and respected. That would make me very happy.”
The storage facilities that Iris rents in Queens, New York, are positively bursting at the seams with a bounty of objects of desire, and after years of negotiation with the savvy buyers at One Kings Lane, Iris is prepared to let go of a select few pieces–800, to be exact. This is an extraordinary opportunity to own a piece of Iris Apfel, a formidable force in art, fashion and decor.
Iris’s education and career are as fascinating as her travels and the goodies that she acquires during the trips. She studied art history at New York University and attended art school at the University of Wisconsin. Iris worked for Women’s Wear Daily and for interior designer Elinor Johnson.
In 1950, she, with husband Carl, launched a textile firm, Old World Weavers. In addition, during that time, she was interior decorator to nine presidents in the White House–including Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City premiered an exhibition about Apfel in 2005 titled Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel. The exhibit’s success prompted its own traveling version.
In addition, the Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History in Boynton Beach, Florida, is in the conceptual phase of designing a building which will house a dedicated gallery of Apfel’s clothes, accessories and furnishings. Epic.
You go, girl!