Iris Apfel may be the chicest 95-year-old ever. When she’s not sitting front-row at New York Fashion Week, the self-described “geriatric starlet” can be found modelling for the likes of Kate Spade and Blue Illusion, debuting a jewellery collection or starring in a documentary by Albert Maysles. The living fashion legend stumbled into It-girl status in 2005 when became the subject of an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art called, “Rara Avis: Selections from the Iris Barrel Apfel Collection.” Since then, Apfel’s career hasn’t slowed down. To celebrate her contributions to the world of fashion and her idiosyncratic style, the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards is honouring Apfel on April 7 with the International Style Icon Award. And if that isn’t reason enough to want to emulate Iris, here are seven reasons why she’s the ultimate in #lifegoals.
She has the biggest—and best—jewellery collection
Chunky, colourful baubles are synonymous with the Apfel name. Not one to shy away from bright beads or flashy rhinestones, Apfel’s accessories are as bold as she is. As she is known to say, “more is more and less is a bore.”
She scored a M.A.C campaign…at 90
Move over, fresh-faced kids! In 2011, in her ninth decade, Apfel showed the world that makeup is for everyone when she launched her own M.A.C collection inspired by colourful birds. She’s proof that you’re never too old for a second—or third or fourth—career.
She decorated the White House
Apfel and her husband Carl started their own restoration company in 1950 called Old World Weavers. They traveled the world sourcing textiles and furniture, and provided fabrics for the White House over the course of nine presidencies, including those of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. They also worked with silver screen stunner Greta Garbo.
She’s a bargain hunter
If you’ve seen the incredibly entertaining documentary Iris, you’ll know that the style guru likes a good deal (one scene shows her haggling with a shop owner in Harlem over bracelets). She doesn’t discriminate when it comes to what catches her eye; designer or street vendor, Apfel will buy anything that she likes—as long as the price is right.
She doesn’t care about trends
Apfel legit wears whatever she wants, and lets her mood dictate her fashion choices. Known for eclectic ensembles and huge glasses, Apfel’s clothing was the subject of a 2016 exhibition in Paris. As she’s said, “I don’t dress to be stared at. I dress for myself.”
She was with her partner for 67 years
When her husband Carl passed away in 2015—days shy of his 101st birthday—Apfel had been married to him for nearly seven decades. While the couple never had children, they adored each other immensely. The key to a long, healthy relationship? “Sense of humour and giving each other some space,” she said.
She is oh-so-wise
She’s been on the planet for nearly 100 years, so it’s safe to say Apfel knows a thing or two. She thinks dressing for your age is “stupid” and that money can’t buy you style. She says that you can get anyway with anything “if your hair is done properly and you’re wearing good shoes,” and that “colour can raise the dead.” But, most importantly, she believes, “When you don’t dress like everybody else, you don’t have to think like everybody else.” Now those are some words to live by.