My Style Muse Is 94

Iris Apfel was “discovered” as an international style icon when she was in her 80s. The Metropolitan Museum showcased her staggering and explosive collection at their Costume Institute. Everything was from her closet: The shoes! The coats! Those enormous necklaces! I swear I couldn’t breathe.

Currently, the Parisian department store Le Bon Marche Rive Gauche has created an “Iris in Paris” exhibition with a pop-up shop. You can buy Iris coffee mugs. Or a postcard. Did I mention she’s 94?

Rather than rely on a perfect nose or flawless skin, Apfel turned herself into a walking creation of strength, vision, and humor. Her eccentric taste is endearing and enduring. She is indifferent to what someone might consider her “flaws.” Apfel is completely connected to herself.

How radical and powerful: Connecting to yourself. I’m loving it, Iris.


Ellen wrote the book on fabulous. Get it here.

9 Comments to My Style Muse Is 94

  1. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    March 23, 2016 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Connected to herself…….yes!

    And such a beautiful reminder to stay ‘connected to myself’… a perfect womantra.

    Thank you Ellen

  2. Donna Puzella's Gravatar Donna Puzella
    March 23, 2016 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I have admired Iris for years. Love everything about her. After meeting you, I have to honestly say I saw similarities between you & Iris. And now here you are writing about her. Gotta love it. And love you, too!

  3. Maria's Gravatar Maria
    March 23, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I was wondering when you were going to write about her – I’ve know about her for a year now and all I can think is – this is you!!!

  4. Judith's Gravatar Judith
    March 23, 2016 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Hi Ellen
    I was interested to see the photo you used (above) for the post on Iris. This photo was part of an advertising campaign for a company called Blue Illusion ( which, as far as I know, is basically an Australian and New Zealand brand. It is a very conservative, mid-priced brand with French pretensions 😉 The picture of Iris appeared in their recent promo for the southern hemisphere winter and I remember that when I saw it I was rather shocked. I just can’t imagine Iris wearing anything as boring and conservative as a navy gabardine trench coat. Which is why, of course, she has personalised it with her trademark BIG statement accessories. The other garments in the collection were equally boring.
    Iris must have been paid very well for the ad campaign and I sort of wondered if she did it because no one in the US would see it! Anyway. That is all by the by. The point is that, whilst Iris has never been a beauty, she has had a longstanding strong personal style, oblivious to fashion whims. Thus the irony of the story is that Blue Illusion runs on the business model of a complete new collection of high fashion items every season – the very thing, I imagine, which Iris abhors.
    Thanks for alerting me to the Met exhibition. I have surfed the website.
    Greetings, as ever from Canberra, Australia.

  5. luci's Gravatar luci
    April 1, 2016 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I recently saw a documentry called Iris and of course I thoughtof you { and myself}We also march to our own drummer.My house is filled with Chatchkes which people call clutter. Irises identity is clutternbut what a woman.The world needs more peolple like her`Maybe she should run for President. love you

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Ellen Lubin-Sherman

Some say she's tart and arch, but she knows fabulous when she sees it, and that's what she writes about. Get her book, The Essentials of Fabulous, on Amazon. More about me...