For fashion icon Iris Apfel, getting dressed to the nines is definitely not hard work and at times definitely not all play – it’s just a part of her DNA. The “rare bird of fashion” landed in Dallas April 24 to attend the screening of her self-entitled documentary Iris at the USA Film Festival, and to participate in a short Q&A following the film. Led into thoughtful discussion by Dallas’ own “rare bird” Jan Strimple, the quick-witted, humorous, and rather punchy responses from the seasoned trendsetter proved she’s still got “it” and certainly didn’t fail to disappoint.
Completely draped in a head to toe orange ensemble, adorned by layers of large turquoise necklaces, and sporting her signature black circular frames, — Apfel graced into Dallas to see and be scene, imparting a wealth of wisdom to listeners who hung on to her every word. From social media handicaps to peeves on age-appropriate attire, read on for our best quotes taken from the fearless and outspoken 93-year-old cover girl.
1. On Being Iris
Iris Apfel: “I can not live in anybody else’s image. I have to do my own thing. I’m just going to go about my business doing things I want to do and in the way that I want to do them. I don’t want to be a rebel. I won’t do anything to offend anybody or upset my mother, but I will just be me. And that’s the way I’ve been all these years. The biggest fashion faux pas is looking in the mirror and seeing somebody else — which is what people do all the time, especially after they watch a runway.”
2. On the Definition of “Good Taste”
“[Good taste] is being appropriate. I think that’s a word that’s gone out of our Lexicon, and people just don’t understand what that means anymore. I’m all for being comfortable and wearing the right kind of clothes, but there are certain occasions that call for something else. I think taste can be improved, and taste can be learned, but I don’t think you can learn style. I think style is in your DNA but you have to work at it. Nothing just happens — there ain’t no free lunch baby!”
3. On Age-Appropriate Attire
“When you’re young, you can wear things that you really should stay away from when you’re old. I don’t mean that as you age you have to wear sack clothes and ashes or go around like an old frump, but let’s face it — 70-year-old knees ain’t pretty. So mini-skirts are out and [when] arms start to go…sleeves are a blessing.”
4. On Her Signature Eyewear
“I’ve always been interested in offbeat looking stuff. I’ve gone to flea markets and junk places ever since I was a little kid, and whenever I saw a pair of fanciful eyeglass frames, I bought them. I’ve accumulated this collection…and they’ve made a perfect accessory. People would say to me, ‘My God, why do you wear them so large?’ and I would sniff and say ‘The bigger to see you!’ And that would shut them up.”
5. On Her All-Time Favorite Designer Ralph Rucci
“I love him (Ralph Rucci) dearly as a friend and I always tell him, that if I would have met him first, I wouldn’t have married [my husband] Carl.”
6. On the Current Lack of Real Designers
“In the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, there were many wonderful designers working who were original, who knew their craft, who knew how to draw a picture, who knew how to cut, drape, and sew. They knew that the inside of a garment should be made just as well as the outside. No one today wants to apprentice, no one wants to work with their hands — everybody wants a corner office without any work [and] it doesn’t work that way.”
7. On the Progression of Technology and Social Media
“Everything that takes time or effort and some sort of imagination or originality seems to be either dying or dead. It’s so sad. It really is terrible. We better get it (imagination) back or it’s going to be a very gray world. It’s nice to have all kinds of information at your fingertips, but it’s really gone to overload and an excessive point. I’m very opposed to so much social media.”
8. On Being a Celebrity
“I’m not a public figure — that’s the one part I don’t like. I mind my own business and do my own thing, and I’m very flattered. Don’t misunderstand me. But how many 93-year-old cover girls are there? It’s been great fun doing all these ad campaigns.”
9. On Marriage
“Two things are most important [in a marriage]: A sense of humor – being able to laugh at yourself, and to not take things too seriously because most people (back in the day) who married had some basics in common. Kids today don’t last 45 minutes. It’s really ridiculous.”
10. On Being Happy
“It’s more important to be happy than well-dressed.”
Iris Apfel and Jan Strimple image credit Lisa Stewart Photography.