August 29, 1921 |
Astoria, Queens, New York
|Education||New York University, New York City|
Born Iris Barrel in Astoria, Queens, New York, Apfel is the only child of Samuel Barrel, whose family owned a glass-and-mirror business, and his Russian-born wife, Sadye, who owned a fashion boutique. Both were Jewish.
In 1948, she married Carl Apfel. Two years later, they launched the textile firm Old World Weavers and ran it until they retired in 1992. From 1950 to 1992, Iris Apfel took part in several design restoration projects, including work at the White House for nine presidents: Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton.
Through their business, the couple began traveling all over the world where she began buying pieces of non-Western, artisanal clothes. She wore these clothes to clients' high-society parties.
On September 13, 2005, The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York premiered an exhibition about Iris Apfel's style entitled Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel. The success of the exhibition, curated by Stéphane Houy-Towner, prompted an initial traveling version of the exhibit at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor, New York, and later at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.
Advisory and academic roles
Apfel is the star of a documentary by Albert Maysles, called Iris. It premiered at the New York Film Festival in October 2014, and was subsequently acquired by Magnolia Pictures for US theatrical distribution in 2015.
Iris Apfel was awarded the Women Together Special Award of the Year at the 12th Annual Women Together Gala at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, June 7th 2016. Joana Caparrós Masip is president and founder of Women Together. Iris Apfel was accompanied by other awardees, such as Hollywood actress Rosario Dawson, the Punta Cana Foundation, Loewe Foundation and others. Iris Apfel was handed the award by Malu Edwards Hurley, who is a board of directors of Women Together and who was MC of the gala event, together with Carlos Jimenez, representative of Spain at the United Nations Headquarters in Brussels.
Apfel's husband of 67 years, Carl Apfel, died on August 1, 2015, just three days shy of his 101st birthday.
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- "Carl Apfel," Hollywood Reporter