In the first of a series paying homage to Style Icons Past and Present, Inspired Luxe would like to pay homage to IRIS APFEL, the 93-year-old former interior decorator-turned-stylist-and-icon known as much for her unconventional wisdom as for her eclectic, fearless, unique sense of style.  

I recently saw the film “Iris” by the late, great documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles. In addition to being touched by the enduring love story of Iris and her husband Carl Apfel, I was struck by the similarities between her and the legendary, timeless Coco Chanel. 

Both are forces of nature: strong, self-assured independent women very conscious of who they are and who both owned their own style. Iris certainly personifies Coco’s quote: “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

In fact, in some of Iris’ musings and quotes both in the film and in interviews I’ve read, I almost felt is if she were channeling Coco:  


           IRIS APFEL

         COCO CHANEL

“Humor is important in everything. Dress with a little humor and you can go a long way.” 

 “You live but once; you might as well be amusing.”

“No amount of money can buy you style. It’s just instinctive.”

“I don’t do fashion. I am fashion.”

“Red makes me happy. It suits me..”

“The best color in the whole world is the one that looks good on you.”

“Do not slavishly follow trends. You’ve got to know who you are.”

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”

“The important thing is to be comfortable so you can get on with your life.”

“Luxury should be comfortable; otherwise, it is not luxury.”

“I never had a fondness for gems or the extravagance of Harry Winston or Van Cleef & Arpels. I’ve always liked the more flamboyant, imaginative things…These are things I love, things I’ve worn. I get more compliments on accessories than anything else.”

“Luxury is the opposite of vulgarity. Luxury is the opposite of status. It is the ability to make a living by being oneself. It is the freedom to refuse to live by habit. Luxury is liberty. Luxury is elegance. True elegance is refusal.”


So, my takeaway – Iris, while certainly fiercely and fearlessly crafting her own unique style, has definitely been hugely influenced and guided by her inner Coco Chanel voice. 

LESSON: “Follow your inner fashion voice and claim your personal style – it won’t guide you wrong. And if it does, at least you’ll be comfortable.”

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