American fashion icon Iris Apfel is one of the industry’s oldest tastemakers. A self-appointed “geriatric starlet”, this New York-based personality is the living embodiment of age is just a number. After founding an international fabric manufacturing company with her late husband in the 50s, Apfel’s penchant for style quickly became world-renowned. Nine US presidents welcomed her on board as the interior designer for one of the most famous houses in the world, working with everyone from the Kennedys to the Clintons and earning her the nickname “First Lady of Fabric”. The subject of a featured Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit, curator of an acclaimed Bergdorf Goodman collection, star of an Emmy-nominated documentary, and MAC Cosmetics cover girl at the age of 90, Apfel’s claim she is an “accidental icon” is no match for her diverse and unparalleled success in the creative community for more than seven decades.
With an Instagram bio exclaiming that “more is more & less is a bore”, it should come as no surprise that Apfel is a master of bold and eclectic sartorial choices. Her signature oversized glasses are often paired with vibrant hues and layers of chunky jewelry, mirroring her flair for the flamboyant in a unique sense of style that is wholly her own. As a firm believer in individuality, Apfel’s daring charisma shines through in not only her wardrobe but also her words, exuding a no-nonsense—almost blunt—attitude crafted from an admirable sense of self-confidence.
To celebrate the style entrepreneur’s milestone 99th birthday yesterday, August 29, scroll through the gallery below for a look at Apfel’s most memorable fashion moments and candid words of wisdom we would all do well to remember.