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26-09-2005
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Iris Barrel Apfel
from an exhibition at the met- to be honest i hadn't heard about her before

An American original in the truest sense, Iris Barrel Apfel is one of the most vivacious personalities in the worlds of fashion, textiles, and interior design and has cultivated a personal style that is both witty and exuberantly idiosyncratic. Her originality is typically revealed in her mixing of high and low fashion—Dior haute couture with flea-market finds, Dolce & Gabbana striped leather trousers with a Zuni belt. With remarkable panache and discernment, she combines colors, textures, and patterns without regard to period, provenance, and, ultimately, aesthetic conventions. Paradoxically, her richly layered combinations—even at their most extreme and baroque—project a boldly graphic modernity. The exhibition inaugurates a new phase in the collecting and exhibiting of dress accessories by the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute. Highlights include individual accessories ranging from a Gripoix brooch to a Roger Jean-Pierre necklace, a Mexican turquoise and hammered-silver belt to a Central Asian silver choker, a pair of 18th-century paste earrings to a pair of modern plastic cuffs. In addition, fully accessorized ensembles from the 1950s to the present are shown as they were originally worn and styled by Mrs. Apfel in a fascinating examination of the power of dress and accessories to assert style above fashion, the individual above the collective.

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26-09-2005
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Jean-Louis Scherrer (French, founded 1962)
Coat, autumn/winter 1990–1991
Multicolored rooster, duck, and fowl feathers


Iris Barrel Apfel (American)
Traveling ensemble, ca. 1965
Upholstery fabric [by Old World Weavers] of orange and brown tiger-stripe handwoven silk face on linen warp

(from met website)

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Photo Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Karin WillisGeoffrey Beene orange wool jersey jumpsuit, circa 1982, with a 1980s Native American scorpion brooch and silver and turquoise belt with 1970s Italian silver-and-ceramic cuffs.

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'I can't stand looking boring or dull,' says Iris Barrel Apfel, whose show, 'Rara Avis: Selections from the Iris Barrel Apfel Collection' is on view at The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 'I always like to mix it up a bit,' said Apfel. 'Dressing should be fun.'

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01-10-2005
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Thanks for starting this thread travis_nw8

source: nytimes.com

Quote:
October 2, 2005
By BILL CUNNINGHAM

The fashion world is gathered in Paris in search of direction and the new. But you needn't fly to Europe to discover a marvelous, rare look at genuine style. "Rara Avis: Selections from the Iris Barrel Apfel Collection" is the new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute.

The show is a sampling of Mrs. Apfel's wardrobe over a 50-year period. Mrs. Apfel, left, arranged each mannequin with her personal accessories.

Mrs. Apfel and her husband, Carl, center right, founded the interior decorating textile house Old World Weavers in the mid-1950's. Their travels in search of historic fabrics led to her collection of fashion.

The exhibition spotlights the total look of one woman of style rather than the usual display of designer clothes separated from the wearers' accessory embellishments. Here you have the whole dazzling image, including her signature eyeglasses and her cuff bracelets, always warn in pairs. The galleries were designed by Harold Koda and Stéphane Houy-Towner to capture the joyfulness of the Apfel style.

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source: http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/fa...1_jigs918.html


Native American necklace, circa late 1930s/early 1940s, with silver turquoise, onyx and bear claws.


Nina Ricci evening dress, circa 1986, by Gérard Pipart, of multicolored chine floral silk taffeta with black, amber and red rhinestone buttons.

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source: http://www.panachemag.com/9_05/TheBu...ctor/Apfel.asp

Quote:
Wardrobe of a Lifetime
Iris Barrel Apfel’s eclectic embellishments.


By Diana Mehl


House of Lanvin gown, circa 1985, gold, brown and gray silk taffeta. Bhutan arm bracelet, late 19th century, silver and amber. Tibet cuff bracelet, late 19th century, silver, amber, coral and turquoise. Tibet necklaces, early 20th century, silver, amber, coral and
Barrel
Apfel Collection


September 13, 2005 – January 22, 2006
Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute
NYC
212.535.7710
www.metmuseum.org
Iris Apfel is a woman who has always been ahead of her time. More than 50 years ago as an interior designer looking for fine traditional silk-woven fabrics, she recognized an opportunity and, along with her husband, Carl, founded Old World Weavers. She built it into one of the most prestigious brands in the world of textiles and interior design and the authority on antique textile reproductions. Thirteen years ago it was sold to Stark Carpets Co., and the Apfels have remained as consultants. The exquisite workmanship and exclusive fabric designs drew the attention of the most discriminating clients – including Greta Garbo, Marjorie Merriweather Post and Estée Lauder. Old World Weavers was also awarded many important restoration projects, which included work at the White House, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Flagler Museum in West Palm Beach.

Apfel has been an influential pioneer in the world of fashion as well, boldly linking high- and low-end and melding flea market finds with haute couture long before doing so was considered fashionable. Her richly layered combinations of colors, textures and patterns show her remarkable panache.

Apfel’s highly original personal style will be celebrated this September in an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute – Rara Avis: Selections From the Iris Barrel Apfel Collection – in what will be a new focus for the Institute: the collection and exhibition of accessories.

In an interview with Panache, Apfel reminisces about her most fabulous finds.

You really are an original. How would you describe your remarkable personal style?
I think dressing up or down should be a creative experience. Exciting. Fun. Whenever possible, it’s really great to start with a marvelously cut designer piece and build on it.

For me the key to personal style lies in accessories. My friends tell me that my oversized glasses and my pairs of bracelets have become my unwritten signature. I have amassed an enormous “collection” of bags, belts, bangles and beads without which I would be lost. One can change the entire look of an outfit by substituting one accessory for another. I love objects from different worlds, different eras, combined my way. Never uptight, achieving – hopefully – a kind of throwaway chic.

Which outfits have you put together that truly reflect your style?
A cowhide apron worn with a black satin jumpsuit. Antique Georgian jewelry mixed with flea market bangles and beads. A haute couture Jean-Louis Scherrer black-feather coat – the tips painted in gold – worn over Roberto Cavalli leopard-print jeans, and leopard-fur loafers. The outfit topped off with some ethnic jewelry. A canvas dance skirt from a Southwest pueblo edged in tinkling tin bells worn with different couture jackets. A silver-fox coat belted with a beaded African wall hanging, and red woolen boots with embroidered trim from Etro. A Chi’ng dynasty exquisitely hand-embroidered silk wedding skirt with an English cashmere sweater and Italian handmade glove-leather boots.

When did you start to collect and how did you build your collection?
I don’t collect per se. My so-called “collection” is my wardrobe. It’s a series of pieces I’ve accumulated over these many years. I love a timeless look, and I think if you develop your own style it’s not a problem – at least it hasn’t been for me. I can mix something I bought last week with something I’ve hoarded for 30 years. I don’t follow trends or the hottest fashion. I buy what I like and my tastes are quite catholic – haute couture to street fashion. Pieces that are Zen-simple or madly baroque. I love ethnic as well as contemporary. I’m fond of serious and adore amusing. I try to make all these things work together. I’ve never bothered to analyze how this happens, but Harold Koda [the curator of the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute] says there is an underlying aesthetic to all this madness. At this point – with all the curatorial poking about – I feel that my life is an open armoire! I do have a lot of stuff. After all, I’ve been shopping for myself since I was 12. I’ve been approximately the same size since high school. While my waistline hasn’t expanded, my closet has! I’m constantly donating to charities and thrift shops. But one doesn’t give away the very special pieces or the haute couture unless it all would be going to the Costume Institute of the Met!

What is going to be included in the show?
The curators are still making changes so I’m not absolutely sure. A few things I hope are cast in stone.

Years ago the ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) did an annual fashion show/luncheon where the leading designers of the day were asked to create an outfit of their choice from a given upholstery house. After a few years, the great James Galanos agreed only if he could use Old World Weavers. He created a spectacular evening outfit that is still very current. It is a floor-length coachman’s coat of a spolinato (handwoven linen background designed with huge woolen flowers that look as though they were embroidered). It is collared and cuffed and half-belted with Russian sable and completely lined with a heavy Chinese lacquer-colored Doupioni silk and is worn over a long “deceptively simple” very sleek dress. It was the centerpiece of his retrospective show at FIT and, hopefully, will now be shown again.

There will be a madly multicolored feather jacket by Nina Ricci combined with Moschino brilliant-red-suede pants that are slashed ribbonlike from the knees down. Then, a three-tiered taffeta ball gown from Lanvin worn with heavy amber Tibetan necklaces and heavier “killer” bracelets. A Tunisian wedding dress. A fabulous coat by Ferré for Dior made of black-and-white Tibetan lamb impregnated with feathers. And Galliano for Dior trousers with wolfskin from the knees down that makes me look as though I’m wearing high fur boots.

You design your own clothes as well?

In the early ‘50s my husband, Carl, and I began a business called Old World Weavers. We specialized in weaving exact reproductions of antique-period fabric. This all started with some samples in a suitcase and, happily, we just grew. Our clients were the rich and famous and we did tons of historic restoration projects – major work in the White House during the combined reigns of eight presidents. Because of business, we spent almost three months every year traveling the world to find offbeat classic-period textile designs and to locate specific mills with specialized techniques to properly replicate them. They were exciting and challenging years.

I’ve always been extremely grateful to have traveled during that period and to have experienced the last of the Old World. One was still able to find highly skilled artisans to carry out any crackpot idea that dropped into one’s head. And surely they did – and often!

I guess I’ve been a “closet designer” who could never sew or cut. But I had some ideas and I could sketch. God knows I had the fabric and the trimmings. It isn’t easy to design an outfit, and trying my hand at it gave me an everlasting respect for the artistry and craftsmanship of the true couturier.

Nevertheless I had my fling with dressmakers, bagmakers and shoemakers. Whenever someone would admire the fabric on a finished piece and ask where it came from, my husband would say, “Thank you – I just shot my couch!”

Who are some of your favorite designers?
Ralph Rucci, a wonderful, special friend of mine who is dressing me for the show’s opening party. When he suggested doing it, I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven! I also favor Gianfranco Ferré, Geoffrey Beene, Galanos and Norell. I guess they’re all part of one beautifully cut tradition. I love clothes that look deceptively simple. They are really very complicated and very architectural. Actually Ferré studied to be an architect. All these guys really know what they are doing. They know how to sketch, cut and sew. Rucci’s clothes and Galanos’s clothes are sometimes more beautiful inside than outside. They are both detail-driven. I love amusing clothes as well. I find that Moschino, Gaultier, Dolce & Gabbana and Krizia have great style and humor.

Color is very important to you.
Yes, but I also love gray – from pearl to charcoal. Years back I was particularly fond of a Tibetan gray-lamb hat and coat. I especially liked it because I had gray hair at the time and you couldn’t see where I ended and the coat began!

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Rest of the article (same source)

Quote:
Do you have any favorite colors?
In the right tonalities I never met a color I didn’t like. I love turquoise and reds. I’m not too keen on pastels. They make me look wimpy. I like black and white together a lot – it’s very crisp.

You also have a fabulous jewelry collection.
Thank you. I don’t know how fabulous, but it is large and insane. Mostly faux with a few real pieces. Eighteenth-century antique to plastic trash. Most of the pieces I found years ago … in Greenwich Village way back in the ‘30s, and, later, in the London street markets, the Sablon in Brussels and the Puce and shops in Paris. In the bazaars and souks in Istanbul, Cairo, Tunis and Marrakesh. During the ‘50s I was in Paris quite often on business and took a fancy to haute couture faux jewelry. I eventually met the great Parisian creators Gripoix and Roger Jean-Pierre who made all the faux jewels for Chanel, St. Laurent, Balenciaga, Givenchy, et cetera. I was invited to their ateliers and we became friends. Often I’d stumble upon an antique piece and ask if it could be copied for me in paste. I’d supply a picture or a sketch and voila! I have some very interesting pieces that are one-of-a-kind. Or I’d buy the jewelry they designed. At first people thought I was mad to spend the money I did on what they considered junk. But I thought the pieces were very artistic and beautifully made. Now they are highly prized. I’m not too fond of real jewelry. I know it’s very beautiful and very valuable but I never had a yen for it. (What a lucky man my husband is!) My stuff is much more dramatic and much more fun.

What are some of your favorite pieces of jewelry?
My turquoise beads from the Southwestern pueblos. A 19th-century Venetian Blackamoor made by the Venetian firm of Codognato. Carl bought it for me when we sold Old World Weavers to Stark Carpets 13 years ago. A Navajo silver-and-turquoise, very large bolo in the form of a Yei figure (Navajo deity). Any of my heavy silver cuffs – Native American, Indian, Afghani, Russian. I favor pairs of bracelets. A necklace that is in reality a set of Bakelite color chips. A Near Eastern slingshot that poses as a necklace. I especially love ethnic jewelry of all kinds. It has a kind of integrity. It’s so organic and it speaks to me, and it is often oversized. I’m crazy about coral, amber and silver as well as turquoise. Many cultures totally unrelated to one another use the stones in different ways. I love to pile on jewelry piece upon piece as the old Native American chiefs did, like the Tibetan ladies do when they go out. If you haven’t noticed, I like BIG. Discrete jewelry is not for me.

What other types of collections do you have?
Museum-quality Ch’ing dynasty costume and textiles. Native American arts and crafts, including Kachina dolls. A large collection of French 19th-century opaline. Antique textiles. A small collection of dog paintings, etc.

What do you look for?
I’m a hopeless romantic. I buy things because I fall in love with them. I never buy anything just because it’s valuable. My husband used to say I look at a piece of fabric and listen to the threads. It tells me a story. It sings me a song. I have to get a physical reaction when I buy something. A coup de foudre – a bolt of lightning. It’s fun to get knocked out that way!

What is your shopping philosophy?
I do have a dominant shopping gene but, unlike a reasonable person, I never plan for what I need each season. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt, the discovery and the endless search. In another creation I was, perhaps, a hunter/gatherer. After all these years, I’ve learned that it’s not the end result or finished product but the process I most enjoy. If my experimenting, searching and juxtaposing turns into an exciting outfit well, it’s just a big fat bonus!

What are you buying now?
Jeans. What else would you suggest for the world’s oldest living teenager?

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01-10-2005
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thanks for the article- she is a true fashionista. sadly we live in a time that's more concerned what paris hilton and lindsey lohan wear...

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^ I couldn't agree with you more!

Geoffrey Beene pieces from Iris Barrel Apfel's collection

source: http://digimuse.cis.drexel.edu/gallery_index.htm

^ You should check out this link for more of her "Beene collection", I've only posted some of the pics. There's lots more, like detail shots.

Quote:


GEOFFREY BEENE: FROM THE COLLECTION OF IRIS BARREL APFEL
CURATED BY KATHI MARTIN AND MARILYN HEFFEREN
DAVE GEHOSKY, PHOTOGRAPHY
MAY 10 - 30, 2003
LEONARD PEARLSTEIN GALLERY, COLLEGE OF MEDIA ARTS & DESIGN

This show includes couture evening wear and sportswear from the private collection of Iris Barrel Apfel, founder, with her husband Carl, of Old World Weavers, a high end interior design textile house specializing in antique reproductions. Counting the Fine Arts Administration in Washington D.C. among their exclusive clientele, they worked on renovations in the White House from the Kennedy to the Bush administrations. Old World Weavers was sold to Stark Carpet in 1992 and the Apfels remain as consultants. They were and continue to be active in the design, intellectual and social worlds of New York, Washington DC and Palm Beach.

"An American classic", in the words of Ms. Apfel, Geoffrey Beene creates clothes that are beautifully crafted and well designed for business and social life.





For the show, details of the garments were digitally photographed and displayed on the walls behind the mannequins. These graphic details served to draw the viewer in for a second look at the details on the physical garment.




This silk taffeta gown and embellished jacket illustrate Mr. Beene's attention to detail and ability to combine colors and fabrics, sculpting an opulent ensemble. The paillettes and embroidery on the bolero jacket are reminiscent of the paintings of Gustaf Klimt.




Beautiful color combinations 0f lace and silk often provide the artistic begining of the design process.




Mr. Beene's love of Spain and the flamenco dance are reflected in this coctail dress of copper silk taffeta overlaid with flocked tullle, edged with a lace galloon. The silk velvet bra binds and accents the breast.




Black velvet, lace, tartan plaid silk taffeta, and re-embroidered silk jacquard
are deftly combined in this coctail dress.




This evening gown of silk panne velvet jaquard has lurex thread creating a reptile pattern in the fabric and detailing the shoulder and hip in trapunto stitching. The assymetrical, one sleeve design and wrapped waist transform the simple column into an elegant contemporary design.







This red silk chiffon evening gown with black duchess satin insert across the bodice is as beautifully proportioned as some of the architecture which interests Mr. Beene and influences his design sensibility.



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01-10-2005
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^ i see alot of mcqueen in those beene's- not suggesting anything.....

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source: nytimes.com

Quote:
November 17, 2005
What Iris Wore: A Style Original

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
Iris Apfel's personal style shows a genius for color juxtaposition.

By RUTH LA FERLA

HERVÉ PIERRE BRAILLARD is no fashion evangelist, but the other day Mr. Braillard, the self-effacing designer behind the Carolina Herrera label, was uncustomarily effusive. "Everyone is going to be talking about this," he predicted, this being "Rara Avis: Selections from the Iris Barrel Apfel Collection," the exhibition at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Since opening last month the show, assembled from the wardrobe of Mrs. Apfel, a New York society figure and a founder of a textile firm, has had people chattering with a heat and enthusiasm rare in the fashion world. Mr. Braillard himself was quick to spread the word, showering friends and acquaintances with phone calls and e-mail messages. "To miss this if you are in the fashion business makes no sense," he insisted.

Carla Fendi, Giorgio Armani and Karl Lagerfeld have taken in the exhibition of Mrs. Apfel's personal style, a rare look in a museum at a fashion arbiter, not a designer. Her approach is so inventive and brash that its like has rarely been glimpsed since Diana Vreeland put her exotic stamp on the pages of Vogue.

As the show's name suggests, Mrs. Apfel, who toots around town in signature bangles and owlish spectacles, is an oddball hybrid: a bird of paradise with a magpie eye for sorting and gathering. A mistress of the disjunctive effect, she likes to combine, as she did for the show, a fluffy couture evening coat made of red and green rooster feathers with red suede trousers slashed to the knees; a discreet rose-colored angora twin set found in England in the 1980's with a 19th-century Chinese brocade panel skirt, accented with a strand of jade beads that swing down past the mannequin's knees.

Her cultural Cuisinart approach simultaneously reflects fashion's love affair with mismatched styles and incongruity, and pushes it to new extremes. Minimalism may be fashion's next direction, but Mrs. Apfel's ornate bohemianism may tempt designers to reverse their course.

"This is a visionary show: nothing on this level has been done for years," said Rachel Crespin, a former fashion editor and designer, who is a design consultant for Ralph Lauren. "It will inevitably rub off on the fashion world."

It has already rubbed off on Ms. Crespin, who acknowledged that the sumptuous fabrics and decorative trims in the exhibition are likely to influence Mr. Lauren's fall 2006 collection. "The market has needed a jolt like this," she said.

Sawing away at a steak salad in the museum patrons' dining room this month, Mrs. Apfel, slim and erect at 84, affected the hearty and slightly bewildered manner of a woman who could not see what the fuss was about. "I've been called a lot of things in my day," she declared, "but I've never been called an inspiration."

Spendthrift comes more readily to mind. "People think that all I do is shop," she confided, but she has worked all her life, first as an interior designer and then, in the 50's, as a founder, with her husband, Carl Apfel, of Old World Weavers, a textile and design company. Their clients included Greta Garbo, Estée Lauder and Marjorie Merriweather Post, who clambered up to the Apfels' second-floor shop wearing sneakers.

Though Mrs. Apfel remains a consultant to the firm, which was sold 13 years ago, she acknowledged that she has been distracted lately. "I've played hooky so long that any day I'll walk in and they'll say, 'You're fired,' " she said, laughing.

Her style places her squarely in the company of a long-vanished breed of socially prominent style-setters of the first half of the 20th century, women whose authority in style matters was absolute. Ignoring the dictates of the runway in favor of a personal aesthetic in those days were maverick spirits like Millicent Rogers, a debutante of the 20's; Nancy Cunard; and Isabel Eberstadt, a society fixture of the 60's. They counted themselves among an influential minority for whom, as Ms. Eberstadt told Marylin Bender for a 1967 book, "The Beautiful People," "looking pretty is not so important as creating a mood."

Like Mrs. Eberstadt, who sallied forth in feathered headdresses and jeweled masks and wore the white boots and architectural dresses of André Courrèges well in advance of her moneyed contemporaries, Mrs. Apfel is something of an artist manquée. "She has a sort of controlled flamboyance," said Lisa Koenigsberg, the director of programs in the arts at the New York University School of Continuing Education, "control" being the operative word. Ms. Koenigsberg has invited Mrs. Apfel to speak next month at her annual fashion symposium, a magnet for the fashion crowd. The Apfel style, she said, is a paradox, both quiet and clamorous, her tailored coats and immaculate cashmeres providing a subtle backdrop against which "the baroque statement stands out."

Quick to identify the relationships among what seems disparate, Mrs. Apfel thinks nothing of mixing a boxy, multicolor Bill Blass jacket from the early 90's with an exotically tinted Hopi dancing skirt and hirsute goatskin boots. In the wrong hands such ethnic get-ups might look costumy, "very Yetta Samovar," as she put it. Her particular high-low spin defies easy classification.

In some ways Mrs. Apfel, who describes her look as "either very baroque or very Zen - everything in between makes me itch," comes across as a visual rebuke to tamer, more mannered society swans of the moment, who appear in the glossies month after month wearing glad rags lifted wholesale from the runways. "All these American ladies of style to me are too perfect," she said. "There's something uptight about them."

Her own idols, Millicent Rogers and Pauline de Rothschild, who underscored her unconventional beauty by dressing austerely, could never have stomached their blandness. .

Or their chilly formality. Mrs. Apfel, who likes to call herself the world's oldest teenager, is not too grand to wear jeans, her repertory ranging from "the cheapest Levi's to the most extravagant Cavallis," she said.

Harold Koda, the Costume Institute curator, who worked with Mrs. Apfel and Stéphane Houy-Towner to organize the galleries, had high praise for her curatorial eye. "To dress this way, there has to be an educated visual sense," he said. "It requires courage."

Other people might find Mrs. Apfel's idiosyncratic ensembles inspiring enough to emulate, but to pull them off takes discipline, Mr. Koda argued. "I keep thinking, don't attempt this at home."

The breadth and range of her wardrobe prompted Mr. Koda to expand the show, originally envisioned as a discreet display of jewelry and accessories, to one encompassing some 82 ensembles and more than 300 accessories amassed over more than 50 years of travel, ardent flea-marketing, working and socializing.

The installation encompasses Bakelite bangles from the 30's, flea market finds like a plastic charm necklace and a tin handbag in the shape of a terrier, Tibetan cuff bracelets that look as weighty as automotive parts and a tiger-pattern traveling outfit of her own design. This last occupies a place in her wardrobe on roughly equal footing with, say, a bouffant red multicolor floral silk evening dress designed in the mid-80's by Gerard Pipart for Nina Ricci; a triple-tier taffeta ball gown from Lanvin; or a husky coat of Mongolian lamb and squirrel from Fendi, wittily displayed on a mannequin emerging on all fours from an igloo.

The show is an audacious departure for the Met. The museum has exhibited pieces from designer collections, Mr. Koda said, "but one thing we've never done is to show an individual's wardrobe, because that becomes social history."

With a humor as crisp as dry leaves, Mrs. Apfel interposed: "This is no collection. It's a raid on my closet." She claims to be shocked that the exhibition came together at all. "I always thought to show at the Met you had to be dead," she said.

Visitors to the Costume Institute - New York grande dames, students of art, design and social history, busloads of tourists and chattering children - seem grateful that is not so. Roaming the galleries last week Kassie McDonald, an assistant designer at a small New York fashion house, was galvanized by Mrs. Apfel's unorthodox eye. "The way she combined yellow gold with different metals and even plastic was definitely an inspiration," said Ms. McDonald, 27. "She is very modern."

Alan Futran, 17, a high school senior, does not know much about fashion, he said, but he knows a free spirit when he sees one. Tearing his eyes from a fuchsia-tinted striped rabbit fur coat mated with rose-color polka-dot pants, he murmured approvingly that the show was "flashy and original" but reserved his highest praise for Mrs. Apfel herself. "She's pretty out there, I'd say."



Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
From the show, a Nina Ricci satin coat with fox collar and a Castillo metallic coat with boots.



Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
A Ralph Rucci tunic and wood rosary beads with articulated hands.



Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
Chinese panel skirt with twin sweater set and a jade carnelian necklace.



Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
An Ungaro rabbit coat with velour pants.


Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
A woolly Nepalese cape with Gianfranco Ferré pants.

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where have all the real characters gone . .!
i love tht she refers to herself as 'the world's oldest living teenager'
she is so right . . abt accessories changing an outfit + loving gre
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her glasses remind me of mine . . .

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I wanted to put some life back into this thread, so here's another article

source: fashion.myway.com

Quote:
Rara Avis: The Metropolitan Museum Showcases One Woman's Singular Style

By Lauren David Peden

Fashion Wire Daily - New York - From the moment a visitor walks down the steps to the entrance of the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute's latest exhibit, "Rara Avis: Selections from the Iris Barrel Apfel Collection" - where you are greeted by the site of a bald, bespectacled mannequin floating on the wall, decked out in a fanciful Norman Norell coat of multicolor silk flower petals from 1962 atop fuschia suede over-the-knee Kenzo boots from 1990 - one is immediately struck with a wondrous and welcome "Toto, we're not in Kansas, anymore" sensation.


Wondrous because it's the first time the Met has ever devoted an entire exhibit to the collection of a single fashion-loving civilian (as opposed to a designer) and Apfel's uniquely over-the-top-yet-wearable style sensibility more than lives up to the honor bestowed upon her and her wardrobe.

Welcome because after several seasons of pretty, if toothless, ladylike dressing (floaty chiffon tops, girlie print dresses, ‘50s redux silhouettes), the fashion world's current obsession with black in all its Victorian Goth glory, and next spring's minimalist beige and greige offerings, it's wholly refreshing to be confronted by Apfel's extremely personal and extremely idiosyncratic everything-and-the-kitchen-sink sartorial aesthetic, wherein she manages to mix such unlikely elements as, say, Dolce & Gabbana lizard pants with a 19th century ecclesiastical vestment or Dior haute couture with a Zuni belt, yet always errs on the side of good taste - and always stays true to her own vision.

In short, the exhibit is a visual reminder of the difference between fashion and style: One hews to commercial, seasonal (and now celebrity) trends, the other hews to an individual's personal taste and their ability to disseminate and incorporate a season's current look into their own particular aesthetic (or not), trends be damned - and it serves as a much-needed slap in the face to the bottom-line-driven fashion industry and the supposedly stylish trendsetters who march, lemming-like, to the drumbeat of the latest Miuccia/Marc/Balenciaga bag/Mukluk boot hit parade.

In the World of Iris Barrel Apfel, it doesn't matter if something is "in" or "out" and it doesn't matter if it cost $5 or $50,000. If she likes it, she wears it. That might not sound like such a groundbreaking idea in these mix-and-match times, but considering that Ms. Apfel is now 84 years young and has been dressing this way for most of her adult life, we're talking about a woman who was way (way) ahead of her time.


"Iris has a very good eye and what's interesting with her is that she always goes for the high and low," Stéphane Houy-Towner, research associate at the Costume Institute and co-curator of "Rara Avis" told FWD recently while conducting a private tour of the exhibit. "Everything was selected for what I would consider visual or aesthetic gratification. Provenance is not something she's interested in. If it looks decent and it makes her happy, she picks it up.

"
Apfel, a native New Yorker, began picking up things that made her happy in the 1930s at the tender age of 14 and starting wearing jeans a few years later when she went away to college in chilly Wisconsin (no one was even making women's jeans back then so she bought men's denim and had them tailored to fit). She really came into her own, fashion-wise, when she moved back to New York post-graduation, became an interior designer, and founded the textile company Old World Weavers in the mid-1950s with her husband, Carl Apfel, and the two began traveling the globe in search of unusual textiles and textile manufacturers, which, naturally, led to some unusual fashion and accessory finds, too - many of them on display at the Met's paean to all things Iris.

But what makes Apfel such a true style maven and, yes, a rare bird in the world of fashion, is not what she wore so much as how she wore it. Apfel was a natural-born stylist with a knack for mixing colors, textures, eras, designers and materials in fresh and unlikely ways - an innate skill further honed, one imagines, by her career in textile and interior design.

Who else would think to pair a bright orange Geoffrey Beene jumpsuit and matching orange Emanuel Ungaro shoes with a Native American turquoise and silver belt and ginormous brooch in the shape of a scorpion, all offset by faux turquoise Italian cuff bracelets? And when was the last time you saw someone sporting a crocodile-embossed black patent leather mink-trimmed ensemble with mustard suede Philippe Model shoes accessorized with a black leather-and-faux-horn curtain tieback worn as a necklace? (What, you mean you don't use your Tibetan fishing basket as an evening bag and never thought to transform vintage camera flashbulbs into earrings, turn coconuts into bracelets or have your shoemaker whip up some boots with leftover upholstery fabric?)


In fact, while Houy-Towner and Costume Institute curator Harold Koda chose all the clothing and accessories included in the show, they asked Apfel herself to do the actual styling, so everything in the exhibit is presented as she wore it, at least once.
Apfel herself rejects the term "collector," as she buys things to use them - true fashion collectors often don't wear their purchases for fear of devaluing their investement - and she enjoys getting multiple "looks" from her wardrobe. She might pair her chevron-striped purple, pink and fuschia metallic leather Moschino "hooker" pants, as she jokingly calls them, with Ungaro's fluffy multicolored tulle ribbon evening coat to tart them up, and later wear the same pants with a chocolate cashmere turtleneck and matching suede boots for a more sophisticated effect.

Apfel's style is what Houy-Towner calls "contained Baroque."


"She is able to tame a very Baroque and excessive and colorful aesthetic," he explained while walking us through the exhibit, which is organized into five galleries. "And she has one of the most amazing color senses I've seen in a long time. She really understands tonalities so she's [able to] put together colors that don't really make sense but the way she mixes them, everything completely works.

"
The show opens with The Défilé, a staged runway show, and the very apropos Edna Woolman Chase quote "Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess" and Oscar Wilde's edict: "One should either be a work of art or wear a work of art.

"
Everything that follows is a visual testament to this sentiment, from the many cases devoted to Apfel's sizable accessories collection (which range from an Armani dragonfly brooch picked up at Woodbury Commons to Bhutanese bangles to kitschy plastic flea market finds) to countless haute couture garments - Lanvin evening gowns, Chado Ralph Rucci ensembles, Christian Dior fur jackets - with outfits that range from outrageous to sublime. ("Zen simple or madly Baroque," is how Apfel describes her seemingly bipolar style, which goes from outré to soigné but is never in between.)

Gallery Two, The Souk, opens with an Andy Warhol quote ("Everybody must have a fantasy") and showcases some of Apfel's more exotic treasures from her globe-trotting days. Gallery Three, The Soiree, focuses on evening ensembles and Gallery Four, The Arctic, is devoted to outfits inspired by her cold climate finds from Nepal, the Pacific Northwest and Mongolia with more fur than you'll see at the Central Park Zoo.

The fifth and final gallery, The Circus, shows off Apfel's fashion high wire balancing act to great effect vis-à-vis unlikely pairings such as a Chinese Qing Dynasty yellow damask embroidered skirt worn with Italian peach leather boots and a rose angora twin set from Britain topped by a Mandarin carnelian and jade necklace that grazes the mannequin's ankles.

"What's really fascinating about that look is that it's not costumey," said Houy-Towner with obvious admiration for the woman he has come to adore. "She was able to make it fashion.

"
Indeed, Apfel’s ability to take disparate elements from around the world (and from different time periods) and put them together so that the sum is greater--and more transcendent--than the parts is what makes the woman (and the show devoted to her style) so unique. And despite the fact that it opened with very little fanfare during New York Fashion Week in September (when the industry was too busy covering the shows to pay much notice), "Rara Avis" has since been visited by some of fashion's heaviest hitter - including designers Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Sylvia Fendi, Anna Sui, Ralph Lauren, Koos van der Akker, Lars Nilsson, Michael Vollbracht, Hervé Pierre Braillard, along with buyers from all the major stores and editors from every magazine - the latter of which led to a New York Times story speculating that this showcase of Apfel's uniquely singular style may pave the way for a fashion industry uprising in which personal taste once again trumps trends, at least in the short term, and inspire designers to new creative flights of fancy.

If nothing else, "Rara Avis" will certainly inspire you to look at everything around you in a whole new multi-purposing light: Hmmm, is that a saucepan or a medallian-in-the-making? Why don'tI wear my 5-year-old daughter's belt as a hair band? Who says a skirt can’t be made from old subway tokens? Why can't those shower curtain rings be repurposed a necklace?


So the next time you find yourself standing in front of your closet with the old "I've got nothing to wear" blues, don’t despair. Just look around the room and ask yourself: What Would Iris Do? The possibilities, it seems, are endless.



101 -- View of the exhibition "Rara Avis: from the Iris Barrel Apfel Collection" installed in the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, on display through January 22, 2006. (Fashion Wire Daily/Courtesy of David Gehosky)




102 -- View of the exhibition "Rara Avis: from the Iris Barrel Apfel Collection" installed in the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, on display through January 22, 2006. (Fashion Wire Daily/Courtesy of David Gehosky)



103 -- View of the exhibition "Rara Avis: from the Iris Barrel Apfel Collection" installed in the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, on display through January 22, 2006. (Fashion Wire Daily/Courtesy of David Gehosky)


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source: lookonline.com

^ To see the video of the interview, click on the link.

Quote:
Wednesday, February 1, 2006
Masters of Fashion: Style Iconoclast Iris Barrel Apfel


Marilyn Kirschner (left) with Iris Apfel (right) in her living room. Photo by Muriel Triffaut.
On Wednesday, January 18th, I had the privilege of interviewing Iris Barrel Apfel in her New York apartment, as part of our ongoing 'Masters of Fashion' Video Interview Series which includes discussions with some of the most influential names in American fashion. Past interviews in the series were with Elsa Klensch, Ralph Rucci, Grace MIrabella, Geoffrey Beene, Rose Marie Bravo, Arthur Elgort, Ruth Finley, and Bill Cunningham. This interview is made possible by our sponsor, Fashion GPS.

Intro: I am Marilyn Kirschner the Editor-in-Chief of LookOnline.com. Today our very special guest is Iris Barrel Apfel, a fashion iconoclast and true original whose colorful individualistic and exuberant style was celebrated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, in an exhibit, ‘Rara Avis’ which ran from September 13th through January 22nd. It’s groundbreaking, has became a must see, and is being talked about by everybody in the industry.

Marilyn Kirschner: Fashion Week is only days away. How do you feel about being an 84-year-old fashion icon that is being touted by many of the world’s most influential designers as one of the most important influences for their upcoming fall 2006 collections?

Iris Apfel: “It’s hard for me to comprehend and to believe…it’s like some sort of a fantasy…it’s great, I mean…. I have been doing the same thing since practically childhood, I started to do my own shopping when I was 12, so after 70 years, it’s kind of a kick in the head. It could have never happened, so…better late than never.

M.K: What were the influences early on that made you love fashion so? Was it a fashionable mother ?

I.A: Yes, I had a very chic mother, she loved clothes and she subsequently went into the fashion business and opened a small chain of boutiques and left me to my own devices more or less. Of course, Grandma was there and we always had people to take care of me but… Since I am 12 years old, if I wanted any clothes I had to go and find them myself because she didn’t have any time. So it was wonderful training, it was difficult, I’ll never forget my first experience, and it’s made me a very, very good shopper. I think all young women should be exposed and not just given unlimited charge accounts and told, “This is how much you can spend, go out and buy an outfit”. Today, with places like H&M and all the discount stores, there’s really no reason not to be well dressed.

M.K.: That’s true. Were you always mixing high end with low end?

I.A.: Always

M.K.: Was it one of your signatures?

I.A.: Always

M.K.: And did people think that you were perhaps a little off your rocker because of your imaginative put- togethers?

I.A.: They must have but it never really bothered me one way or another, but…obviously, they must have.

M.K.: And did you always like having people look at you because you stood out in the crowd?

I.A.: No, I never really think about it, I ‘m not like that, I have so many other things to do, I’m not a fashionista, and that is not my life. I love beautiful clothes, and I appreciate them, but…I’ve been in business all my life, I built a business, I’m involved in a lot of charities and all kinds of stuff…and….you know, just being a clotheshorse is not my idea of heaven.

M.K.: So you started as an Interior Decorator?

I.A: I was a Vogue Prix de Paris Girl, if anybody remembers back that far…and I really wanted to go into editorial fashion. So my very first job was a copygirl for Women’s Wear Daily when they were down on 13th street. And I lasted there a couple of months. It kept me in shape, and that’s about all because I was running up and down the stairs, but I realized quickly enough, being very bright, that I’d never get any place because all of the editors, at that point, were middle aged…they were too young to die and too old to get pregnant, so I’d never get a shot. So eventually I left…and through a series of strange events I ended up in the Interior Design business.

M.K.: About 50 years ago, you and your husband Carl, founded one of the most well respected companies on the planet in terms of textiles and materials….Old World Weavers.

I.A.: Yes, yes…we had a small company that we started…actually we began it out of a suitcase because we didn’t know if that would work and we didn’t have any funds. I designed these things and Carl would go around during his lunch hour with a suitcase which he put on wheels…if we had packaged that we wouldn’t have had to do anything else. And…it went well, we got some very nice orders, and we subsequently decided that we would go into business ourselves. It was very colorful and very fun because our first big order came with one of the icons in the industry, Dorothy Draper. She was a very large woman, and she had a very large trestle table in her studio, and it took Carl months to get an interview with her, and I have to go back to tell you that the bag, the suitcase, was getting very heavy, because he had so many samples and silk (our silks were just incredible, they were 18,000 ends to lift - they could just pull a truck), and he had loads and loads of heavy antique Dupioni taffeta, and I said “Rather than carry them all, it’s getting too cumbersome, let me go to the mill and make you…what we used to call a long “blanket”.

So I arranged to do about 14 inches of each color and I would grade them and in a grand gesture he threw it across Madame’s table and she said “This is just what I’ve looked for all my life young man, this is the first intelligently scaled stripe I’ve ever seen.” and she said “I’m doing a job for a colonel who has this marvelous house in the Bahamas and he has 18 foot ceilings and I need horizontal stripes and I can’t find so can you make me 300 yards? The following day we had a visit from a Sara Fredericks, who was a retailing icon. She was doing her house and had mentioned that she needed fabric, and a mutual friend who was an antiques dealer said “you have to go and see these two young people who are just starting out”…she came to the apartment and fell in love with something and ordered 250 yards…so we said “ok we’re going into business” and that’s how it happened.

We took a 3 story walk up on 57th street, which I thought would be more chic than any place since we were in the middle of all the antiques dealers, and you had to walk up three double flights of stairs… but all of the so-called ‘W’ ladies came, they all found out about it, Mrs. Marjorie Meriwether Post among them and she became a very good client. I have a very funny story about her. She bought a silk called “Hillwood” for her house in Washington, it’s just beautiful, in the estate section where all the embassies are, and we finished the order. Early one morning, the telephone rang and I answered, and she said “This is Mrs. Post and I must speak with Mr. Apfel immediately!” And I thought Oh my God what happened? So Carl got on the phone and she said, “Mr. Apfel, last night my drapes were delivered, they are absolutely stunning. They are hung in my sitting room and I am on top of an 18 ft ladder, examining them. You have also made me exquisite silk fringe, but I must know, how many little balls are there supposed to be in a running yard?” and my husband thought for a minute and he said, “Mrs Post, every day I eat your Raisin Bran , can you tell me please how many raisins I am supposed to find in a tablespoon?” And she said, “Touché! Mr. Apfel. My God, I am a foolish woman and I better get down from that ladder before I break my neck. Excuse me I love it and that’s the way it should be”.

Everybody came (including Estee Lauder) and everything we did then was custom made, which of course became too cumbersome to make. We subsequently decided to go to Europe to buy and design and look for antique fabrics which had always been or were the basis of our collection, they were not knock-offs or…what’s the word…. suggestions, but were actual replicas, and we would go all over trying to find the proper mill to so that it was just like it was in the 17th or 18th century.

M.K.: Precise and perfect. Do you think the relationship between fashion and home décor is underrated or do you think it’s always been proven through the years and centuries?

I.A.: Oh through the years it’s been proven, because the beautiful French dresses are of the same fabric as the ladies sat on. I mean they go hand in hand, it’s part of a lifestyle.

M.K.: And in the cover story “What Iris Wore, A Style Original”, by Ruth La Ferla, which ran in the Thursday Style section of The New York Times on November 17th, 2005, it was mentioned that Ralph Lauren is apparently going to be using a lot of upholstery fabrics for fall 2006 as an inspiration from your exhibit.

I.A.: Oh that would be very nice. I would hope so. We have sold upholstery fabrics over the years. Oscar de La Renta has bought a lot of our things, Geoffrey Beene has bought some, Bill Blass…. Ralph Rucci. As a matter of fact, the boots, the high over the knee boots in the exhibition, if anyone has seen it, are of an upholstery fabric that Ralph designed and Mr. Blahnik made. And I just had to have them.

M.K.: One of the things I love is the Traveling Ensemble (a matching three piece outfit fabric comprised of a coat, a pair of boots, and an oversized satchel) made from a heavy upholstery-like animal pattern.

I.A.: It is in a fabric that I designed, that was made in the early sixties.

M.K.: All I could think of when I saw this is how nowadays, when you travel and see how most people look at airports, they are such slobs. I couldn’t get this image out of my mind and I was hysterical. I also thought that it was so amazing, was that it showed a lot about how exacting and precise your aesthetic is, in both home decor, and fashion sense. It’s all very, very consistent.

I.A.: I don’t dress like that when I travel now. I do think you have to look like the crowd so I always travel now in jeans.

M.K.: Things are a lot different now. By the way, speaking of jeans, I read somewhere that you refer to yourself as the “world’s oldest living teenager” and that you are constantly looking for jeans right now. Are there any particular brands that you like?

I.A.: Well I like men’s jeans, they fit me very well.

M.K.: What makes?

I.A.: Well any kind, I have a lot of Levi’s…I used to buy a lot of jeans in Target or places like that…I can’t remember the names. I also have beautiful designer jeans.

M.K.: Some were in the exhibit.

I.A.: Very few. They were going to do a big section on jeans but we had so much to choose from. They decided that we should go for fantasy. Harold said people don’t want to come to the Museum and look at jeans or little gray flannel suits, even though those are what I wear most of the time because I like to accessorize them and they’re easy and practical for working which is what I do. I had nothing to do with the curatorial process. And actually, they came looking for accessories, the exhibit was conceived as a small accessory production. It was going to be a vitrine Show….

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