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Iris Apfel, fashion icon known for her eye-catching style, has died at 102

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NEW YORK –

Iris Apfel, textile expert, interior designer and fashion celebrity known for her eccentric style, has died. She was 102 years old.

His death was confirmed by his sales agent, Lori Sale, who called Apfel “extraordinary.” No cause of death was given. This was also announced on Friday on his verified Instagram page, which had celebrated a day earlier as Leap Day represented his 102nd and a half birthday.

Born on August 29, 1921, Apfel was famous for her irreverent and eye-catching outfits, mixing haute couture and oversized costume jewelry. A classic Apfel look would pair, for example, a feather boa with strands of chunky beads, bracelets, and a jacket decorated with Native American beads.

With her large, round, black-rimmed glasses, bright red lipstick, and short white hair, she stood out at every fashion show she attended.

His style has been the subject of museum exhibitions and a documentary film, “Iris”, directed by Albert Maysles.

“I’m not pretty and I never will be, but that doesn’t matter,” she once said. “I have something much better. I have style.”

Apfel found late fame on social media, amassing nearly three million followers on Instagram, where her profile states: “More is more and less is boring.” On TikTok, she attracted 215,000 followers as she spoke about fashion and style and promoted recent collaborations.

“Being stylish and being fashionable are two totally different things,” she said in a TikTok video. “You can easily buy your way to becoming fashionable. Style, I think, is in your DNA. It involves originality and courage.”

She never retired, telling “Today”: “I think retiring at any age is a fate worse than death. Just because a number comes up doesn’t mean you have to Stop.”

“Working alongside him was the honor of his life. I will miss his daily calls, always greeted with the familiar question: “What do you have for me today?” Sale said in a statement. “Testimony to his insatiable desire to work. She was a visionary in every sense of the word. She saw the world through a single lens: a lens adorned with giant, distinctive glasses sitting on her nose.

Apfel was an expert in ancient textiles and fabrics. She and her husband Carl owned a textile manufacturing company, Old World Weavers, and specialized in restoration work, including projects at the White House under six different U.S. presidents. Apfel’s famous clients included Estée Lauder and Greta Garbo.

Apfel’s 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.” The museum described his style as “both witty and exuberant and idiosyncratic.”

Its originality is usually revealed in its mix of high and low fashion – Dior haute couture with flea market finds, 19th century ecclesiastical clothing with Dolce & Gabbana lizard pants. The museum said his “layered combinations” challenged “aesthetic conventions” and “even at their most extreme and baroque” represented “bold graphic modernity”.

Author of Style winner Iris Apfel attends Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars gala at Cipriani Wall Street on October 27. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, was one of several museums nationwide to host a traveling version of the exhibit. Apfel then decided to donate hundreds of pieces to Peabody – including haute couture dresses – to help them build what she called “a fabulous fashion collection.” The Museum of Fashion & Lifestyle, located near Apfel’s winter home in Palm Beach, Florida, is also planning a gallery dedicated to displaying items from Apfel’s collection.

Apfel was born in New York to Samuel and Sadye Barrel. His mother owned a store.

Apfel’s fame in her later years included appearances in commercials for brands like MAC Cosmetics and Kate Spade. She also designed a line of accessories and jewelry for Home Shopping Network, collaborated with H&M on a sold-out collection in minutes of brightly colored clothing, jewelry and shoes, launched a makeup line with Ciaté London, a collection eyewear with Zenni and partnered with Ruggable on flooring.

In a 2017 interview with AP, at the age of 95, she said her favorite contemporary designers were Ralph Rucci, Isabel Toledo and Naeem Khan, but added: “I have so much stuff that I’m not going to Cheap cheap.” When asked about her fashion advice, she said: “Everyone should find their own way. I’m a big individualist. I don’t like trends. If you learn who you are, what you look like and what you can manage, you will know what to do.

She dubbed herself “the accidental icon,” which became the title of a book she published in 2018 filled with her memories and style musings. Odes to Apfel abound, from a Barbie like him to T-shirts, glasses, artwork and dolls.

Apfel’s husband predeceased her. They had no children.

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