By Jo Strausz Rosen
At 101, Fashionista, Iris Apfel has lived her life out loud. She maintains unique fashion standards that have set her apart as a fabulous diva. Her wonderful joie de vivre influences and inspires us. Find her on social media encouraging us to drape ourselves in extraordinary materials in order to show off our creative side. Her quotes about style are framed and collected around the world by those who follow her lead. I love her individuality. I am inspired by her zest for life. She, like all the remarkable independent thinkers on the Jewish Senior Life campuses bring joy to each other. Our residents take time to dress for classes and for dinner. They adorn themselves with family heirlooms and beloved colorful and flowing garments.
This year we’ll be celebrating this spirit at our annual Lives Well Lived event and we invite you to join us. Lives Well Lived: Aging in Style! will take place on November 16 @ 7:00pm. Featuring the very special Iris Apfel in an Emmy-nominated film and co-starring all of YOU – in your fabulous and outrageous statement wardrobe pieces. Put on your big glasses, chunky jewelry, and everything else that inspires you! Express yourself and be delightful and come out to the Jewish Community Center Berman Theatre for a night of fun and fancy! Let the paparazzi take your photos for our newsletters, website, and local papers!
Iris Apfel was an only child born to the Barrel family in New York. From an early age, she loved fabrics. She watched her mother work magic with accessories and scarves. Iris’s grandmother kept dozens of bags full of the most wonderful treasures – little scraps of fabric in all shapes, colors, and patterns. Iris grew up to study art history at NYU and her life was changed when Frieda Loehmann (of Loehmann’s) delivered this left-handed compliment, “Young lady, you are not pretty, and you may never be pretty. But you have something much more important: You have style.”
Iris said she never dressed to be stared at, she dressed to express herself. “Sometimes getting ready for a party was more fun than the party itself.” She felt a sense of wonder and excitement in every outfit she created. Her first job was as an assistant to an interior designer. Then Iris became a decorator. She loved searching for materials and figuring out how they would look in her client’s homes. When she met her future husband Carl, she realized that happiness came from within. Their sense of humor was the secret ingredient for long-lasting happiness. They opened a boutique together that became known for its unique materials and beautiful textiles. After completing White House interior design projects for nine presidents, Iris earned the appellation “The First Lady of Fabric.”
Iris and Carl traveled the world looking for the unusual. Wherever they went, Iris found a new piece to add to her wardrobe. After 60 years of collecting flea market finds and mixing them with high fashion, Iris’ wardrobe had become worthy of an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The public fell in love with those outfits and the accessories – and the woman who dared to wear them. Suddenly at 84, Iris was a fashion icon! She became the star of a documentary and made it to the cover of top fashion magazines. She even wrote a book and she found time to celebrate her 90th birthday as the new face of a make-up company.
Now 101 years old, being “the rarest bird in the world of fashion,” Iris shows the world just how much fun and wonderful life can be when you let yourself shine. Come SHINE with us!!
Contact Beth Robinson firstname.lastname@example.org or call 248-592-5062 for tickets, sponsorships, and volunteer opportunities or visit the Lives Well Lived webpage. https://jslmi.org/events/jsls-lives-well-lived/