Thursday, May 07, 2015


Iris Apfel. Photo by Jennifer Livingston

Last weekend Larry and I went to the old Silent Movie Theater, now called Cinefamily, on Fairfax to see "Iris," the documentary about fashion icon Iris Apfel from legendary documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles.
Albert Maysles and Iris Apfel

Iris has had a fascinating life. She grew up in New York, the only daughter of a businessman father and a dress shop-owner mother. Iris studied art and design at New York University and the University of Wisconsin. Early in her career, Iris worked in the fashion and interior design industries. In 1950, Iris and her husband Carl founded the textile firm Old World Weavers and ran it until they retired in 1992. She and Carl were involved in design restoration projects, including several at the White House for nine presidents: Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Reagan, Ford and Clinton. Now retired, Iris consults and lectures about style, design and fashion.  In 2005, The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York premiered an exhibition about Iris Apfel's style entitled "Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel."
Left: Iris, in the 1970's, sporting a fabulous CAFTAN. Right: Iris and Carl Apfel, 2005

The late documentarian, Albert Maysles, interviewed Iris, her husband Carl and many of the people involved with them for the film. It was fascinating to learn about Iris' style, her history in the design world and her travels around the world, hunting for decorative artifacts and textiles. 

Photo by Jonathan Frantini

Seeing the inside of Iris' homes and her warehouse was captivating. MOST interesting was seeing how Iris shops and puts herself together. She will wear an old pair of jeans with an intricate brocade jacket and then pile on necklaces and bracelets. Some of the jewelry may be expensive and some, pieces she found in flea markets.  All put-together, she looks like a million bucks!
Ellen, chaneling Iris

If you have a chance to see this film, GO!  "Iris" is an inspirational documentary for all ages! I'm considering organizing a theater party with my girlfriends where we all dress like Iris!

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