The Rare Bird of Fashion (Day 86)

(photo credit: Iris Apfel via Viva Vivanista on Photo by Rob Rich.

My goal from this day forward is to channel my inner Iris Apfel.

It was 2010 when we visited a featured exhibit called, “Rare Bird of Fashion: the Irreverent Iris Apfel” at our local museum, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM.)  The exhibit presented more than 80 dramatic wardrobe ensembles from eclectic New York style icon Iris Apfel’s personal clothing and accessories collections. Everything about what we saw was bold and playful and exhausting, which I’ve since learned can also be said of the inimitable Iris Apfel.

This afternoon, my mother and I viewed the Albert Maysles’s documentary, “Iris,” which, according to the Magnolia Pictures description, “portrays a singular woman whose enthusiasm for fashion, art and people are life’s sustenance and reminds us that dressing, and indeed life, is nothing but an experiment.” Albert Maysles, the documentarian, takes us into Apfel’s homes on Park Avenue in NYC and in Palm Springs as well as into her work and home life, past and present.

What inspired me most about Ms. Apfel was not her extraordinary approach to style (which mixes haute couture with costume jewelry and accessories in lively and unexpected ways) but her sensibility. At 93, she is spirited and creative and vocally impatient with the banality in today’s fashion. “People are being robbed of their imaginations – and everything else – with this button-pushing culture we have,” Apfel says in an April 28, 2015 Vogue magazine interview.

I was thrilled to learn from the film that Apfel enjoyed working with the PEM Exhibit so much that she has begun to donate select pieces of her clothing and accessories to PEM’s permanent costume collection.

I can’t think of a better way to reinvigorate myself when I’m feeling uninspired than to go down the street (okay, several streets) to the PEM and get an infusion of Iris Apfel.




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