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Celebrating the Life and Style of Iris Apfel

CEO Tinh Phung
Iris Apfel at the New York premiere of the documentary Iris on April 22, 2015 (photo: Dustin Harris/Getty Images) Iris Apfel, the iconic fashion influencer known for her vibrant and eclectic style, has passed away...

Iris Apfel 2015 Iris premiere Iris Apfel at the New York premiere of the documentary Iris on April 22, 2015 (photo: Dustin Harris/Getty Images)

Iris Apfel, the iconic fashion influencer known for her vibrant and eclectic style, has passed away at the remarkable age of 102. Her legacy leaves an indelible mark on the world of fashion and accessories. Born in Queens, New York, Apfel began her career as an interior designer in the 1950s. Later, she co-founded Old World Weavers, a company dedicated to textile sales and restoration, alongside her husband, Carl. Her talent for design caught the attention of influential figures, leading her to consult on design restoration projects at the White House under nine different presidential administrations.

A Unique Fashion Journey

Apfel's close friend, Russell Pagliughi, a noted jewelry sales and branding consultant, cherishes memories of their shared experiences. One particular trip to Newport, Rhode Island stands out in his mind. As they toured the town's famous mansions, Apfel recognized her own fabric designs in every home they visited, having previously worked for the renowned Doris Duke.

JCK Iris Apfel with her distinctive style.

Their friendship blossomed when they met at Atelier Swarovski, and Pagliughi quickly became an integral part of Apfel's life. Their adventures together saw them attending speaking engagements worldwide and sharing intimate dinners at her apartment and favorite New York City restaurants. Pagliughi fondly remembers their time together, describing Apfel as a second mother who affectionately referred to him as "pussycat."

A Fashion Icon

Apfel's unique sense of style captivated the fashion world. She embraced a more-is-more approach, masterfully blending colors, textures, and patterns to create stunning and unconventional outfits. Her creative vision was showcased at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in 2005, where the exhibit "Rara Avis: Selections From the Iris Apfel Collection" showcased her distinct bohemian style. At 84 years old, Iris Apfel became a household name, and her influence on fashion and self-expression continues to resonate.

Iris Apfel at 100th birthday party Iris Apfel sits for a portrait during her 100th birthday party (Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images for Central Park Tower)

Apfel's signature look was characterized by her oversized, owl-like eyeglasses and her knack for layering bangles of all kinds. Her ability to mix luxury pieces with thrift-store finds showcased her innovative self-styling. Editorial director of Gem + Jewel, Emili Vesilind, admires her unconventional approach, crediting Apfel with teaching the world how to "stack" jewelry and encouraging individuals to dress with unapologetic joy.

An Enduring Legacy

Apfel's impact extended beyond her personal style. She collaborated with various brands, including Bernardaud and Alexis Bittar, and starred in a campaign for jeweler Erstwilder. Her eponymous line on the Home Shopping Network introduced her unique creations to a wider audience. Apfel's influence is evident, as fashion enthusiasts continue to draw inspiration from her fearlessness and ability to push boundaries.

As we remember Iris Apfel's extraordinary life, her friend Russell Pagliughi believes that her legacy will live on through the way people embrace jewelry and accessories. Her daring and audacious style encourages us all to express ourselves boldly. While we mourn the loss of a fashion icon, her vibrant spirit and unmatched creativity will forever be remembered.

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