Iris Apfel née Barrel was born in Astoria, Queens, New York, on August 29, 1921. She is an American fashion icon, businesswoman, and interior designer. Her parents owned a fashion boutique. Apfel studied art history at New York University and attended the University of Wisconsin art school.
As a young woman, she worked for Elinor Johnson who is an interior designer for Women's Wear Daily. She was married to Carl Apfel who passed away on Aug 1, 2015. Together they started a textile firm called Old World Weavers and operated it until they retired in 1992. Apfel has taken part in numerous design restoration projects including work at the White House for nine presidents.
She has performed in television commercials, documentaries, and collaborated with some companies on matters of fashion. The Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History in Boynton Beach, Florida is building and designing a place to house a dedicated gallery of her accessories, furnishings, and clothes. She was once a visiting professor at the age of 90 at the University of Texas at Austin. She still lectures on style and other fashion topics. In 2013, the Guardian classified her as one of the fifty "Best-Dressed over 50". In 2016, she was awarded the Women Together Special Award of the Year at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
For all of the larger-than-life personalities in the fashion industry, maybe no one has been as consistently zany in his or her style as Iris Apfel. Having worked in just about every aspect of the fashion industry, Apfel is popular as one of the fashion world figures. She does not mess with her accessories, Apfel is known for her feather boas, layered jewels, and, of course, her trademark round, black-rimmed glasses. She is almost 100 years old, but she shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.