“A visionary”: Tributes pour in for the late Iris Apfel

The interior designer and fashion icon was aged 102.

Iris Apfel, the iconic interior designer known for her bold fashion sense, has died at 102-years-old.

The news of Iris’ death was first announced via her official Instagram account on March 1.

Along with a photograph of Iris wearing a fabulous black and gold gown was the caption, “Iris Barrel Apfel. August 29, 1921 – March 1, 2024.”

Lori Sale, Iris’ agent, then released a statement to the Associated Press that further confirmed the sad news.

iris apfel

“Iris Apfel was extraordinary, working alongside her was the honour of a lifetime,” it read.

“I will miss her daily calls, always greeted with the familiar question, ‘What have you got for me today?’ Testament to her insatiable desire to work.

“She was a visionary in every sense of the word. She saw the world through a unique lens – one adorned with giant, distinctive spectacles that sat atop her nose. Through those lenses, she saw the world as a kaleidoscope of colour, a canvas of patterns and prints.”

Following the news of her death, tributes for Iris instantly began pouring in.

iris apfel christie brinkley

Hannah Waddingham of Ted Lasso fame commented, “Ohhhhhh. Goodnight and God bless Ma’am. What joy and endless style you brought to so many,” under the Instagram post that announced Iris’ death.

Edwina Bartholomew simply wrote, “Icon.”

Christie Brinkley took to Instagram to write a lengthy post of her own to honour the late Iris.

“Unforgettable legend, undeniable icon, unbelievably creative, and unlike anyone I’ve ever met! A one off original, a one of a kind, sweet, sweet soul, who will never be forgotten,” Christie captioned a carousel of images of her and Iris.

iris apfel tributes

“She always added so much pizazz wherever she went . Everybody loved her . Including me,” she continued.

Molly Ringwald followed suit and posted an image of Iris in a striking red dress with the caption, “A life well lived. Farewell Iris Apfel. What a rare and beautiful bird you were.”

The Weekly’s very own Style Director Mattie Cronan also paid tribute to Iris, calling her “an icon for a new generation”.

“Iris Apfel was a true original; a maximalist with an envied archive and the most exquisite jewellery collection,” Mattie reflected.

iris apfel tributes

“Iris brought style to the forefront and became an icon for a new generation with her ability to layer abundantly, clash colours and textures and dress authentically and unapologetically.”

Born Iris Barrel in August 1921, Iris grew up in Queens.

As a young woman, she attended art school at the University of Wisconsin and studied art history at New York University.

Following her studies, Iris worked at Women’s Wear Daily as a copywriter before then working for interior designer Elinor Johnson.

In February 1948, Iris married Carl Apfel. The couple then launched Old World Weavers, a luxury textile brand, in 1950 and ran it together right up until they retired in 1992.

This venture catapulted Iris into the elite circles of New York’s design scene, where her keen eye for blending traditional aesthetics with bold, contemporary elements garnered widespread acclaim.

During her time running Old World Weavers, Iris was commissioned by several First Ladies, including Jacqueline Kennedy and Laura Bush, to assist with the interior decoration of the White House.

Her impeccable interior decorating skills aside, Iris also became known for her distinctive personal style.

With her oversized glasses, layers of chunky jewellery, and penchant for mixing patterns and textures with fearless abandon, Iris became an icon of sartorial eclecticism.

This status was solidified in 2005, when the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art curated an exhibition dedicated to her eclectic wardrobe, titled Rara Avis: Selections from the Iris Apfel Collection.

Following her retirement from Old World Weavers, Iris dabbled in many other ventures.

For instance, she modelled for several brands including Kate Spade and MAC, designed a fashion collection in collaboration with H&M, put out a makeup line with Ciaté London and appeared as guest judge on Project Runway.

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