Businesswoman, documentary film subject and all-around fashion legend Iris Apfel had two important reasons to celebrate yesterday: the launch of Iris Meets INC, her fashion collaboration with Macy's-owned INC International Concepts, and her 95th birthday — especially major.
The forever young icon was pretty much the best advertisement for the '60s-inspired collection that she curated — looking absurdly chic and especially fun in a psychedelic-print shift dress, tall flat boots, statement layers of chunky jewelry and her signature eyewear, of course. The woman of the hour made a fashionably late entrance to her bash at La Sirena in the Meatpacking District — but don't mistake her for a fashion person.
"I'm not a fashionista," she told, uh, Fashionista, in between bites of her lunch. "I have another life." Although, that life is pretty steeped in that exact industry. Just to recap, along with Iris Meets INC, Apfel regularly stars in designer ad campaigns (Kate Spade and Alexis Bittar, to name a couple), has Rara Avis, a jewelry line on HSN and is prepping for another New York Fashion Week. She'll be attending her usual eclectic lineup of shows, including what sounds like Monse ("they're two young [designers] who have been with Oscar de la Renta") and hopefully her friend Naeem Khan's, too.
"I don't know how many I’ll have time for because I have so many things going on," Apfel says.
Sounds pretty fashion-y to us, but the infinitely wise and perennially cool Apfel can be full of surprises and delightful contradictions. After all, her likeness appears on quite possibly the best emojis since Kim Kardashian's, but she never ventures onto Instagram and while she supports WiseWear's line of luxury smart jewelry, told us she's "the most un-technological person in the world." (We doubt that.)
Let's be honest, Apfel has earned every right to say what she wants, when she wants — and we wouldn't have it any other way. So more power to the reluctant fashion icon for being frank about a burning topic when it comes to the industry: ageism and that oft-used expression, "dressing for your age."
"I think that's stupid," Apfel says about the phrase. "I think [designers are] all entirely too youth-oriented. I think a lot of designers create very expensive clothes for women [in their] 60s and 70s — people who wear them — and they create them for 16- and 18-year-old bodies. The kids can't afford to buy them and the women look like a horse's ass if they put it on. So it's all out of whack."
She'd like to see designers and the industry change and to be more attentive to "that whole segment of society that is neglected." But at the end of the day, women should just dress for themselves.
"I think if a woman has her own style and knows who she is, she doesn't have to dress for being 60 or 20 or 90," she says. Preach! Oh, but wait.
"I mean, there are just some certain things that older women shouldn't do," Apfel adds. "But otherwise, I don't think there are any rules. Older women shouldn't show excess flesh. They should wear sleeves. They shouldn't wear mini skirts. They shouldn't wear very high heels. They shouldn't wear too much makeup. They shouldn't have long, flowing hair. Things like that which are just common sense."
But the birthday girl isn't judging, mind you.
"Well, it's not my place to stop them," Apfel says. "You're asking me my opinion. If they want to show it off, be my guest. I want you to be happy. I always say it's better to be happy than well dressed. Do your own thing. I don't sit and judge anybody. I don't like rules and regulations, but these are just some common sense things. I think it's nice to look in a mirror once in awhile."
The 40-piece Iris Meets INC collection runs from $24.50 to $199.50 is available in-store and online at macys.com.