THE BIG APFEL: Iris Apfel is coming to the City of Light.
New York’s doyenne of eccentric style will be the subject of an exhibition at Paris department store Le Bon Marché from Feb. 27 to March 26. “Iris in Paris” will include window displays and a pop-up store with display cabinets showcasing 10 outfits Apfel put together for various activities in the French capital.
“I’m a great believer in being appropriate. It seems to be a word that’s gone out of fashion. Let me preface all this by saying I do not live to get dressed. I’m not an empty-headed fashionista,” the 94-year-old documentary star said in a phone interview.
“Most of the time, I’m not dressed up like Mrs. Astor’s pet horse. During the day, I wear jeans or tights, or something like that. I can’t work when I’m all done up, and I work almost all the time, so I’m not in full regalia. But if I know I’m going out to dinner in Paris, or I know I’m going to the opera, or I know that there’s a special fashion show, I don’t believe in going looking like a slob,” she added.
Among the items on sale will be a bag designed by Apfel, made of red or black Mongolian wool; oversize sunglasses from Selima Optique; a men’s bow tie by Cinabre Paris; bracelets from Luc Kieffer; necklaces by Marion Vidal, as well as limited-edition items including notebooks, a scarf, an umbrella and a mug.
The chiffon scarf will feature a drawing of the Eiffel Tower by Eric Giriat, whose sketches of Apfel will be exhibited on the second floor of the store. Apfel herself is expected at the launch event on March 2, coinciding with Paris Fashion Week. “I haven’t been to Paris in about 10 years, so I’m eagerly awaiting the trip,” she said.
The former interior designer hopes the exhibition will encourage people to branch out of their comfort zone. “I don’t know why people like to dress so much alike. I don’t know whether it’s peer pressure, or it’s the fact that they don’t want to make a mistake, and clothes are so expensive that they want to feel safe,” she lamented.
The nonagenarian is doing her part to change that, with upcoming collaborations including a silver and wood jewelry collection for Mexican house Tane, a capsule for Happy Socks and a small ready-to-wear collection for Home Shopping Network, which sells her Rara Avis jewelry line.
“I like to keep very occupied and creative. Right now, it’s terribly important to me. I lost my husband six months ago. Next week, we would have been married 68 years. We were very close, and so I have to keep myself totally distracted. And I love what I’m doing, so it’s very, very fortunate that in my dotage, people have come to me,” she explained.
Apfel has also been racking up modeling gigs, with campaigns in the pipeline for carmaker Citroën and Australian fashion brand Blue Illusion. “At 94, to become a model is kind of funny,” she remarked. “I mean, I’m the oldest living broad, I think, that’s been on a magazine cover.”