Iris Apfel Death: The Fashion Icon Who Lived Colorfully

Iris Apfel, the American designer and fashion icon renowned for her bold and eclectic style, passed away on March 1, 2024, at the age of 102. She peacefully left this world at her home in Palm Beach, Florida, surrounded by her loved ones.

Apfel, affectionately known as a “geriatric starlet,” served as a wellspring of inspiration and delight for countless admirers, captivating hearts with her boundless creativity, unwavering confidence, and infectious charisma.

In this tribute, we honor Apfel’s extraordinary journey and indelible legacy, while sharing heartfelt tributes from her devoted fans and esteemed friends.

A Life Embraced with Artistry and Wanderlust

Born in New York City in 1921 to a Jewish immigrant family, Apfel embarked on a lifelong journey steeped in art and exploration. She pursued studies in art history at New York University and furthered her passion at the University of Wisconsin’s art school.

Her professional endeavors led her to become a copywriter for Women’s Wear Daily and an illustrator for The New Yorker. Alongside her illustrious career, Apfel’s ardor for interior design, particularly textiles, flourished.

Together with her husband Carl Apfel, she co-founded Old World Weavers in 1950, a venture specializing in the reproduction of antique fabrics and wallpapers. Their craftsmanship adorned esteemed locales such as the White House and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, garnering widespread acclaim.

Apfel’s fascination with fashion blossomed through her global voyages, where she curated a vibrant collection of unique garments and accessories.

Her signature aesthetic, characterized by oversized glasses, statement jewelry, vivid lipstick, and an eclectic mix of patterns and textures, captured the imagination of fashion enthusiasts worldwide. In her own words, “I don’t have any rules, because I’d only be breaking them.”

A Luminary in Later Years

Apfel’s meteoric rise to fame occurred in the late 1990s and early 2000s, solidifying her status as a muse and mentor within the fashion realm. Her unparalleled style journey was immortalized in the groundbreaking exhibition “Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel” at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2005.

The exhibit, showcasing Apfel’s personal collection styled on mannequins, marked the Met’s first tribute to a living individual outside the designer realm, captivating audiences worldwide.

Continuing to captivate hearts, Apfel’s influence extended across documentaries, publications, and brand collaborations. Notable partnerships with MAC Cosmetics, H&M, and Kate Spade, alongside her role as the oldest model signed by IMG Models at age 97, underscored her enduring impact.

Honored with prestigious awards, including the Women Together Special Award of the Year from the United Nations in 2018, Apfel’s legacy remained an unparalleled beacon of joy and creativity.

Fond Farewells and Lasting Tributes

Apfel’s passing prompted an outpouring of affection and gratitude from the fashion community and beyond, with luminaries and admirers alike sharing heartfelt tributes:

  • Tommy Hilfiger hailed Apfel’s transformative influence, acknowledging her as both an artist and an influencer who left an indelible mark on countless lives.
  • Lenny Kravitz bid farewell to Apfel as a true original and trailblazer, celebrating her vibrant and colorful life.
  • Anna Wintour lauded Apfel as a force of nature and pioneer, embodying the spirit of American fashion with boldness and fearlessness.
  • Albert Maysles celebrated Apfel’s vivacious spirit and ageless wisdom, highlighting her as a national treasure and global icon.

Apfel’s legacy, embodied through her boundless creativity and infectious spirit, will continue to inspire generations to come. She was a rare gem, a beacon of joy, and an enduring icon. Though she may be gone, her vibrant spirit will forever resonate. Rest in peace, Iris Apfel.

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