MODA / FASHION 68 | Moda » Fashion CENT ENAR I AN WHO KNOWS A L L T HE R E I S TO KNOW ABOU T FASH I ON Yes, yes, getting old ain’t for sissies It was on the first Thursday of September last year that the New York fashion elite flooded to Manhattan’s magnificent new skyscraper, Central Park Tower. The reason? That was the day that Iris Apfel celebrated her birthday in one of its penthouse suites. And not just any old birthday… THE “LADY AMBASSADOR OF INDIVIDUALITY” TURNED 100 - but even the triple-digit candlesonthecakecouldn’tconvinceher to slow down. The colour coding of her outfits andaudacious fashionaccessories have been a topic of fascination for decades. She has become synonymous with what we call personal style - ornate and eclectic, and always current. TheIristhatyou’llalwaysseewith round-rimmedglasses,wearingstrikingcoloursandwithabunchof statement jewellery items,withher recognisable style and charm, ceaselessly seeks new ways to express herself. Laudedforhereccentricclothingand influence on the global fashion community, she continues to be a fashion industry pioneer. Itwasduring the1960s thatApfel established herself as an eminent interior decorator in well-to-do circles. She worked for nine presidents and first ladies (during the administrationsofTruman,Eisenhower,Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Clinton), decorating the WhiteHousetosuit their tastes,with everything sheworkedongiventhat magical“Apfeltouch”.Duringhertravels, she didn’t collect only masses of beautiful elements for interior decoration, but also real fashion treasure. Sheoftencombinedclothingfromthe Lanvin,Chanel,Dior,Dolce&Gabbana or Nina Ricci brands with vintage articles and retro pieces. Her prominent and elegantwardrobe, combiningcolourfuldesigneritemsandcheap kitschpieces, became the subjectof a major 2005exhibitionatNewYork’s MetropolitanMuseumofArt.Thatexhibition, entitled “Rare Bird of Fashion:TheIrreverent IrisApfel”,wasthe first in the history of this legendary museumto focusona style iconwho isn’tafashiondesigner.Andher influence has only grown since that time, such that today she has millions of Instagram followers. Her life motto is: “More is more and less is a bore”. She shows the essenceof fashion: ameansof expressing who you are or want to be, while simultaneouslyhaving fun.At a time whenwedesperatelywant toconsign pandemic modesty and gloominess to the past, her flamboyant appearance serves as the ultimate promise of optimism: that the best is yet to come andwe should look forward to it with joy. This“geriatricstarlet”,asshedubs herself, doesn’t seem to know about FOTO: Profimedia.rs /NoamGalai / Getty images the word retirement. Why does she continue working at the age of 100? “Workiswhatkeepsmefeelingyoung and vibrant. I lovewhat I do and I do it with my heart and soul,” she says. Followingahomewear collectionline forLowe'sCosandaneyewear collectionforZenniOptical, she joinedthe extendedlistof iconsof stylewhocollaborate with Swedish fashion giant H&M. The Iris Apfel x H&M collection pays homage to her inimitable look andwill certainly interest you if you’re a fan of this beloved fashion muse’s playful style. However, the charmof her life’s joy isn’t just “everydaymake-up”, but ratheralsoanexercise indemonstratinghowtostaytruetooneself.This lady refuses tocompromise inher later life, rathercontinuingtocreate,choosing to be known for her powerful individuality – because it’s only when you’rebravethatcanyouremainoriginal and true to yourself. “I’m told that the sunsets from 100 storeys up are themost spectacular,” shesaidontheeveofher centenary birthday, adding: “I never think about my age. Maybe that’s the ticket. It’s just a number... Yes, getting’ old ain’t for sisses. You start falling apart, but you just have to buck up andpasteyourself together. Youmay not likegettingold, butwhat’s thealternative? You’re here. Embrace it. I say put your experience to work, to givesomethingbacktootherpeople.”