Iris validates everything about my life. I would venture to guess that most, if not all of you will feel the same when you watch the Iris documentary, which was released on Netflix earlier this year. For women traditionally, but let’s be honest guys are exactly the same if not worse, we are constantly portrayed as being at war with our closets. Often forced to be embarrassed by our love of fashion. We are expected to poo-poo such an unintellectual, superficial exercise like shopping.
I can attest to this guilty feeling. I love fashion, always have and sometimes clothes makes me happier than a lot of other things in life. Shopping quiets my mind from all of the chaos in my life and I often daydream of leaving my current professional life and doing something fun, like fashion. Why is it that fashion is seen as something flippant?
For many individuals it is the ultimate form of expression. A way of showing who you are, without uttering a word. What’s more powerful than that? No one exemplifies this strength more than Iris Apfel. At 94, she is a ball of energy. Albeit a ball of energy that complains of aches and pains most of the time, but her schedule rivals that of a first year associate at a law firm, so you can’t really blame her. She is a spring chicken in comparison to her husband, who at 100 in the film, continued to be her partner in crime on most of her shopping odysseys.
It’s as if the Apfels have been living in this beautiful fantasy land their entire lives and now that they can’t travel to Marrakech or Paris at the drop of a hat, they relive their adventures on their person.
Visually, Iris is a peek into a New Yorker towards the end of her life who is tying up loose ends. Unloading all that she has accumulated in life and making sure it gets to a good home. While Iris does this in a very real way throughout the film, giving away her incredible collection of costume jewelry, clothing and furniture, she is also doing it with her knowledge, mentoring countless students and designers.
The biggest takeaway from the film is that you can’t take it with you when you’re gone, whether it be an aqua blue fur boa or an eye for textiles and quality design so why not share and make sure it lives on?
“It’s like jazz.” Iris on the improvisational nature of her dressing.
“He was cool, he was cuddly, and he cooked Chinese, so I couldn’t do any better.” About her husband Carl, who sadly passed away earlier this year.
"You're not pretty, and you'll never be pretty. But, it doesn't matter. You have something much better. You have style." Frieda Loehmann, owner of the legendary clothing store Loehmann’s once told a young Apfel.