Last week I had the incredible honor of attending an advanced screening of fashion documentary “Iris”. Most known for her sharp tounge, wicked sense of humor and cooky sense of style it’s no surprise I feel connected to the Icon. The most magical part of the evening was that I Iris Apfel herself would make an appearance for a Q&A after the film and I was seated front row. “I like big and bold and lots of pizzazz,” Iris declares in a scene from the film, for fashion icon Iris Apfel, getting dressed to the nines is not hard work, it’s just a part of her DNA.
Completely draped in a head to toe orange fur ensemble, layered by different sizes of large turquoise necklaces, and sporting her signature black circular frames, Apfel dropped into Dallas with a wealth of wisdom to fashion hungry listeners yuring to hear her point of view. In the 80 minute film audiences get an inside look into what exactly put Iris on the map, her incredible collection of haute couture gown & accessories, their relationship with fashion stars like Linda Fargo & Kanye West.
On filming her documentary.
[The late director Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens) and I] “didn’t even have an outline. I had absolutely no idea what this was all going to be about because we filmed on and off for four years because he was traveling, I was traveling, he was in the hospital a few times, I was in the hospital a few times, I broke my hip. Very geriatric. Anyway, they followed me to a lot of events, came to my house a few times, both my homes … I still think there’s enough footage on the cutting-room floor to make two or three more films, should anybody be so foolish. It’s kind of strange seeing yourself, but everybody responded so profoundly. I never expected anything like that. And it’s very much cross-generational and also cross-gender. Young people like it and old people like it — it is very interesting. Everybody comes away with a part of it, they tell me, that really touches them.”
On Finding individuality.
“I never worried about what people said [about me]. I figured, if people didn’t like it it’s their problem, not mine. The only people I ever worried about were my husband and my mother. I’m not going to live in somebody else’s image. I don’t believe in that. We should work at being nice rather than work on being liked. To have some sense of style, you have to work at who you are and cultivate your own personality and express it in what you wear. That takes some effort, and it’s painful sometimes to find out who you are.”
On Visiting Dallas
“I started to come in the ’70s, when everything here was booming. I’d go back and tell my friends, “Even if you have an idiot son, send him to Dallas, and he will make a fortune!” I made a lot of friends [in Dallas], and everybody was always so nice to us. In those days, I really liked to do shopping. There used to be two wonderful shops, Lou Lattimore and Marie Leavell. They used to have sales like you can’t believe, and all this imported haute couture.”
On Being Iris
“I can not live in anybody else’s image. I have to do my own thing. I’m just going to go about my business doing things I want to do and in the way that I want to do them. I don’t want to be a rebel. I won’t do anything to offend anybody or upset my mother, but I will just be me. And that’s the way I’ve been all these years. The biggest fashion faux pas is looking in the mirror and seeing somebody else — which is what people do all the time, especially after they watch a runway.”
On the Definition of “Good Taste”
“[Good taste] is being appropriate. I think that’s a word that’s gone out of our Lexicon, and people just don’t understand what that means anymore. I’m all for being comfortable and wearing the right kind of clothes, but there are certain occasions that call for something else. I think taste can be improved, and taste can be learned, but I don’t think you can learn style. I think style is in your DNA but you have to work at it. Nothing just happens — there ain’t no free lunch baby!”
On Her Signature Eyewear
“I’ve always been interested in offbeat looking stuff. I’ve gone to flea markets and junk places ever since I was a little kid, and whenever I saw a pair of fanciful eyeglass frames, I bought them. I’ve accumulated this collection…and they’ve made a perfect accessory. People would say to me, ‘My God, why do you wear them so large?’ and I would sniff and say ‘The bigger to see you!’ And that would shut them up.”
On the Progression of Technology and Social Media
“Everything that takes time or effort and some sort of imagination or originality seems to be either dying or dead. It’s so sad. It really is terrible. We better get it (imagination) back or it’s going to be a very gray world. It’s nice to have all kinds of information at your fingertips, but it’s really gone to overload and an excessive point. I’m very opposed to so much social media.”
On Being a Celebrity
“I’m not a public figure — that’s the one part I don’t like. I mind my own business and do my own thing, and I’m very flattered. Don’t misunderstand me. But how many 93-year-old cover girls are there?”