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Iris Apfel & Ari Seth Cohen: Drug of Choice

Self-proclaimed “geriatric starlet” Iris Apfel talks style with collaborator Ari Seth Cohen

In our increasingly fast-paced and youth-obsessed times, age is the most enduring taboo. Just the thought of getting old one day gives most people the jitters. Luckily, there is still Iris Apfel, senior style icon, interior designer and self-proclaimed “geriatric starlet”, who – at the wild age of 91 – reminds us all that style doesn’t necessarily equal late nights, flashy clubs, and dewy skin. Apfel gained cult status in 2005 when the Metropolitan Museum of Art paid tribute to her with Rara Avis: The Irreverent Iris Apfel, an exhibition of her flamboyant wardrobe. (This was also the first exhibition the Met ever hosted for a living woman.) Since then, her success seems preordained, if a bit past-due: she has a line of eyewear for Eyebobs, an accessory line for the Home Shopping Network, a MAC cosmetics collection under her name, and “The Iris Sandal” designed by Jimmy Choo in her honour.

Not bad for a former visiting professor at UT Austin’s School of Human Ecology. “I’m not just some empty-headed fashionsta,” Apfel says. She started her life as a copy writer for Women’s Wear Daily in the early 1940s, but quickly turned towards interiors. With her husband Carl (happily married after sixty-four years), she founded Old World Weavers, which brought them historic restorations at the White House during the administrations of nine presidents. One person who recognised the style and glamour of such accomplished older women before anyone else is Ari Seth Cohen. He founded Advanced Style, a blog dedicated exclusively to them (and a documentary is on the way). Iris Apfel, of course, is his biggest muse, and we were thrilled to have them speak together.

Self-proclaimed “geriatric starlet” Iris Apfel talks style with collaborator Ari Seth Cohen