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Iris Apfel, fashion icon and businesswoman, dies aged 102


American fashion icon and businesswoman Iris Apfel has died at her home in Palm Beach, Florida, at the age of 102.

The news was confirmed on her social media accounts early Saturday morning and by her agent, who called her “extraordinary” and said she was the epitome of style.

No cause of death was given. She was last pictured celebrating the leap year on Thursday.

Born in New York in 1921, Apfel was primarily an interior designer and became a public figure thanks to a contract that allowed her, with her husband Carl, to consult on White House interiors for six presidents.

But later in life, she attracted attention for her colorful bohemian style – wearing irreverent, eye-catching outfits, mixing high fashion and oversized costume jewelry.

Her fame exploded in 2005 when the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York held an exhibition about her called Rara Avis – Latin for rare bird.

She billed herself as a “geriatric starlet”: she appeared regularly in the style pages of The New York Times, was photographed for Vogue magazine, and appeared in advertisements for Coach, MAC Cosmetics, and Kate Spade.

Apfel has amassed over three million followers on Instagram and another 215,000 followers on TikTok.

She also designed a line of accessories and jewelry for the American Home Shopping Network, collaborated with H&M on a sold-out collection in minutes of brightly colored clothing, jewelry and shoes, created a makeup line with Ciaté London and partnered with Ruggable on flooring.

Designer Iris Apfel is seen on the runway during the Joanna Mastroianni Fall/Winter 2012 collection during New York Fashion Week February 15, 2012. REUTERS/Kena Betancur (UNITED STATES - Tags: FASHION ENTERTAINMENT)
Ms. Apfel on the catwalk during New York Fashion Week in 2012. Photo: Reuters

His style was also the subject of a documentary film, Iris, directed by Albert Maysles.

Mrs. Apfel was predeceased by her husband Carl, who died in 2015 at the age of 100.

She was also an expert in antique textiles and fabrics and owned a textile manufacturing business, Old World Weavers, with her husband.

The company specialized in restoration work, including White House projects. Ms. Apfel’s famous clients included Estée Lauder and Greta Garbo.


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