Think about the most stylish people you know. How many of them have had the contents of their closets on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or inspired a line of MAC makeup? Have they been a visiting professor at a major university, admired by Alexander Wang and Kanye West or sold a shoe and jewelry collection on the Home Shopping Network – all after age 90?
Known as a quintessential New Yorker, Apfel has a Wisconsin connection: She attended art school (naturally) at the University of Wisconsin, graduating in 1943, and received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Wisconsin Alumni Association in 2013.
Iris is the final opus of the great documentarian Albert Maysles, best known for Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter. When he died last year, just before the film’s release, he was 88 – five years younger than Apfel herself.
For a person of any age – let alone one who turns 95 later this month – Apfel has already had an astounding 2016. She’s appeared in a French car ad, and she is the face of Australian fashion and housewares brand Blue Illusion.
Even for those of us who prefer a Steve Jobs-esque uniform of jeans and a black tee (it’s comfy, okay??), one look at Apfel can make you long for a splashy caftan and “bracelets the size of tricycle tires,” as New York Times critic Manohla Dargis describes them.
“You can’t take your eyes off Iris Apfel,” says Dargis, who named the film a Critics’ Pick, “but, then, why would you want to?”
POV: Iris airs tonight at 9 p.m.