On August 29th, 1921, the only child of the Jewish couple Samuel and Sadye Barrel, Iris, was born. Her mother owned a clothing boutique, and her dad was a mirror manufacturer. She had an interest in fashion at an early age, and would grow up to be a reference in the industry.

The beginning of her career

As a young woman, Iris studied Art History atNew York University, and soon after started working for Women’s Wear Daily and for Elinor Johnson, an interior designer. In her late 20s, she became Iris Apfel, after marrying Carl Apfel.

Together, they launched a textile firm named Old World Weavers, and traveled the world looking for one of a kind fabrics, cheap bracelets, and art pieces. As a result of their travels, the couple owned of one of the most unique jewelry and clothing collections in America.

They had a long list of important clients to please, including socialites known in the New York scene and famous politicians. In fact, they were responsible for many design restorations of the White House, working for nine presidents of the United States: Harry S.

Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.

Even with all the success in her career, Iris only became a popular figure in the early 2000s, being on the cover of many magazines, and the face of campaigns for established brands in the industry.

The Documentary

Around 2009, the renowned director Albert Maysles got in touch with Ms.

Apfel to talk about a documentary project he had in mind. At first, the answer was no. But eventually, they started working together on and off for the next 4 years, videotaping trips, ceremonies she attended, interviews, and covering her daily life. In October 2015, the self-titled documentary was released, achieving great reviews and a massive audience, not only the fashion-related individuals. In the movie, you can see how passionate and active Iris is, differently than what you would expect.

You can also explore her personal life, why she never wanted kids, and her tips for a long-lasting marriage. The full documentary is available on Netflix, and you can watch the trailer below:

What's next?

Even with the death of her loving husband, age 100, one year ago in Palm Beach, FL, there is no stop for the woman who combines couture and flea market products with a great sense of humor. She is teaching at the University of Texas, introducing young designers to different textiles, and working on her next project: a book. The release date is still unknown, but knowing the figure and her career, it’s easy to say the book can be everything...

but boring.

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