Apfel at O Cinema Miami Beach to present IRIS
|Education||New York University, New York City|
|Alma mater||University of Wisconsin|
|Known for||Interior designer, Fashion designer|
(m. 1948; died 2015)
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.
On Feb 22, 1948, she married Carl Apfel (born Aug 4, 1914 – died Aug 1, 2015). 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.
In 2011, Iris Apfel became a visiting professor at The University of Texas at Austin in its Division of Textiles and Apparel.
In 2016, she performed in a television commercial for the French car DS 3, and was the face of Australian brand Blue Illusion. In March 2016, Apfel announced a collaboration with technology startup WiseWear on an upcoming line of Smart Jewelry. In 2018 she published a book entitled Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon.
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. It was the museum's first time showcasing an exhibit about clothing and accessories focused on a living person who wasn't a designer. 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 7, 2016. She was accompanied by other awardees, including Hollywood actress Rosario Dawson, the Punta Cana Foundation, the Loewe Foundation and others. Apfel was handed the award by Malu Edwards Hurley, member of the board of directors of Women Together and MC of the gala event, together with Carlos Jimenez, representative of Spain at the United Nations Headquarters in Brussels.
Apfel was honored as The New Jewish Home's Eight over Eighty Gala 2017 honoree.
Apfel's husband of 67 years, Carl Apfel, died on August 1, 2015, at age 100.
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