Iris Apfel died in Palm Beach, Florida on March 1st, 2024.

STP~News flys down memory lane to honor the style icon, affectionally known to her fans as The Rare Bird.

This review revisits a documentary released in 2015 ( shown at the Peabody Essex Museum, and other places) about the legend who at the time was a fabulous 94 year young woman living-up to her rock-star status.

“IRIS“, directed by Albert Maysles, is now available on Amazon in multiple formats.

More than a splash of color and flash of music IRIS is a mega-bolt of common sense. The documentary captures the heart and humor of the iconoclastic fashionista. It tears apart the seams of an industry that celebrates the essence of her style in a laugh-out-loud funny film that is stitched together with love and poignancy.

Notable film documentarian, Medal of Honor recipient, Albert Maysles’ skills as a former psychologist capture a sense of edginess, immediacy, and intimacy by focusing more on Iris’s persona√® than a parade of her runway costumes. Accessorized with bright lights, rockin’ music and quick edits, this film is captivating from the first frame to the last.

A self described geriatric starlet, Iris is the subject and verve of the movie predicated on the value of being true to one’s self. The flying saucer-sized signature spectacles designed to correct Apfel’s vision metaphorically adjust our own perception of fashion’s purpose in this 83 minute reflection of her life.

IRIS opens by introducing us to the white haired woman who is the stylized antithesis of synthesis. She is to fashion as Jackson Pollock is to painting, Dizzy Gillespie is to music and ee cummings is to poetry. Her clothing is a cacophony of color, her bracelets a jangle of sound, her necklaces sway their own way.

Quirky conversations between Carl Apfel and his Rare Bird embellish the dynamic-duo’s charming relationship as they fly between their cluttered nests in New York and Palm Beach. The music softens and the camera lens hyper-focus’ on the eyes of Iris as she dotes on her beloved 100 year old business partner, husband and serenader. Her black rimmed glasses and shock of white hair fill the frame of this usually vibrant film with pathos. The suddenly intense study of black and white underscores the simple truth of life.

Iris and Carl Apfel lived inseparably for more than 67 years.

Carl Apfel 1914-2015

Iris Apfel 1921-2024

The documentary concludes the way it began, filled with love and laughter.

Long may the spirt of this Rare Bird and her beloved husband Carl live on.

Peabody Essex Museum’s fashion gallery includes more than 80 ensembles from the personal collection of style icon Iris Apfel. Like the documentary, PEM’s fashion gallery is a MUST SEE!


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