Artful Living: Apfel of My Eyes

Apr. 7—IRIS APFEL. My heart is broken. I realize she was born in 1921 and she was 102. BUT, my heart broke anyway last month. Anyone who knows me, understands I have a bit of the crazy bug. I love big earrings, I love eccentricity, I love having too many things around my personal house. To me, that means understanding who I am and what I love. I felt that Iris Apfel understood the same things. JUST DO YOU. And don't apologize for it. My favorite quote of all time was one of her most famous: "More is more, less is a bore." The first time I heard that I thought, "Yaaas."

So, I first became aware of Iris because I've been in the design business for 100 years and Old World Weavers was a part of my everyday work in Denver. Iris and her beautiful energy, her ginormous glasses AND, my favorite, her absolutely over the top, layered costume jewelry. Growing up with parents who ran a fashion boutique in Queens she learned to appreciate the idea of STYLE. Apparently, the Great Depression taught her to be enterprising in ensuring she had the latest style of clothing. MADE HER OWN. (Again: "YAASSS.") Her humble beginnings were probably also the reason she learned to appreciate a great New York costume jewelry street vendor or store.

And then, Iris went on to study art history in New York, and fine arts in Wisconsin. She worked for Women's Wear Daily reporting on the textile industry. Again, an accomplishment that I think was super cool. When she married, it was to a man named Carl Apfel and they founded Old World Weavers. They traveled to find inspiration and rare textiles that were so awe inspiring they could make an interior designer, like myself, tear up a little. (If you know me at all, textiles make me cry all the time.) Iris and Carl were together until 2015, sadly, when Carl died. At 100! They worked together for nine presidents. Yes, nine. In no particular order: JFK, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. Having Greta Garbo as a client probably didn't hurt their business much either. I don't know any of my interior design friends who wouldn't kill to have that on their resume.

Iris Apfel. I will miss her being on the planet. I will miss that she continued to start new things all the way to her last days. Iris became the face of a beauty line of products at 101. She put her name and face to a new rug line right around the same time. She continued to shine like a diamond.

Iris Apfel, who also once said, "When you don't dress like everybody else, you don't have to think like everybody else." So true. Think about that the next time you worry about what anyone else thinks about you. Remember that too when you are selecting things for your home. JUST DO YOU. Be just a little like Iris and keep her in our hearts.

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