Iris Apfel and Tavi Gevinson at the Met

A couple of weeks ago, whilst I was in New York, I was luck enough to go to a talk with the amazing Iris Apfel and Tavi Gevinison called Impossible conversations: Ugly Chic”. Here are some of the incredibly interesting thoughts on style and how these two women young and old dress.
(Terribly blurry pic from the talk, apologies)
Iris:  “ I am organised only in my own way. I don’t intellectualise about clothes, I can’t give any can’t give any rules. I  think they’ll go together and I throw them on”
Iris” I am the worlds oldest living teenager’
Tavi: “ A lot of my clothes have some kind of motif or print. Getting dresses is a form of play- it should be great fun.”
Iris: ‘When the fun goes out of it you might as well be dead. You shouldn’t work with rules and regulations. Persue your own style”
Tavi: ” Taste and style are like a sense of humour. What you find funny is what you find funny. I wish people had more of a sense of humour about style. There is now a more acceptable kind of weird- the vintage, cutsey look”.
Iris: “ Much more freedom today. I remember when I was wearing old clothes not vintage. Terrible time with my husband when he stated I can afford to buy new clothes, why do you want old things.”
Iris: “Personal style evolves for yourself, and personal style is all about curiosity of oneself. Not give a damn about what anyone else thinks.
Tavi: “Fashion is about fantasy, You have to have self confidence or you can’t pull it off. Fantasy is powerful”
Iris: ‘ In the 40s I was one of the first women to wear jeans. My outfit was a gingham turban, crisp shirt and blue jeans. I had this idea in my head and I HAD to get a pair of jeans. I tried the Army and Navy store and they stated, “ don’t you know that young ladies don’t wear jeans”. Eventually after persistence I managed to get a pair of boys jeans to wear.
Iris : “I’m not a rebel. The New look was smashing. I don’t live to be trendy. You can’t be trendy and have personal style. Nobody can wear everything, and every designer has a particular person in mind”
Iris: My favourite designers at the moment are Ralph Rucci and Dries Van Noten. I like architectural clothing that can be embellished with jewellery”.
Tavi: My favourite designers are Medham Kirchoff, Rodarte and Prada. Their clothes exist in a vacuum. I like that for Medham Kirchoff music is so important`. I also think Alexander McQueen is important. His was mutant fashion. He was a mad scientist of fashion, but Schiaparelli was the mother of all of this.
Iris: “Schiaparelli worked on a womans body. Hers was intellectual rather than just fashion. Her designs were practical and could be worn. Why pay a fortune and look like a freak?  Having bumps all over is not the most attractive thought (referencing Comme de Garcons). I can look ugly on my own and it won’t cost me a penny.
Iris Apfel “ There is nothing like a good old bathrobe” (ahem, my former housemates, if Iris Apfel says this I MUST be cool).
Tavi “Getting dressed is a form of performance art. You assume a persona when you get dressed”
Iris “Clothes should not be the primary thing you do. There is more than clothing to life. You should have curiosity about yourself”.
Iris “ There is an undercover revolution of the old. Age does not make you invisible. Just because you are a certain age does not mean you have to walk around in widows weaves. Why should you be stopped because of a number”
Iris “ I never felt constricted because I dressed a certain way. Right now there is no counterculture. The way to be rebellious is to get old”
What I think came from this is that there is a hell of a lot of great and creative fashion going on with older ladies at the moment. You just have to look at advanced style to see this (there were a lot of ladies in the audience who have been featured on this website). There was discussion at the end of the talk that there might well be an exhibition upcoming for advanced style featuring outfits worn by some of these fabulously stylish older ladies.
I think both Iris and Tavi made some great points about style and the way we dress. Most importantly dressing should be about self expression and enjoying what you wear. Don’t get driven by trends, and just dress in a way that makes you happy.

Iris Apfel: The ultimate Geriatric Starlet

Today I’m sharing another of my style icons. Iris Apfel. What can I say? I hope when I reach 90 i might be even just a tenth as cool as her! The title of this post Geriatric starlet refers to Apfel’s own description of herself. Superb!

“Mrs. Apfel is the discerning curator of her own wardrobe. Sorted and stowed in a vast nearby warehouse, that wardrobe incorporates pieces commemorating high points in her life. “She’s a great storyteller,” said Mindy Grossman, the chief executive of HSN. “Every single thing she wears, she remembers a story behind it.”

Apfel claims to not be a collector despite her vast wardrobe. Which was epitomised in a comment made in an article for the guardian “Some people own such valuable clothing they would never dare to put it on. This is anathema to Apfel. There’s one lady who lives in the Midwest who has about 15,000 pieces. She once wanted to show Apfel some of her collection, and when she took out “this divine Geoffrey Beene dress”, Apfel said: “Oh my God, you must have had so much fun wearing it!” The woman was horrified. She said: “Wear it!? This is part of my collection. You don’t wear your collection!” Apfel said: “In that case I don’t have a collection.”

(this was so crazily relevant for my current project into wearing historical dress it got me very excited!)

Apfel’s prowess as a fashion icon was demonstrated in 2005 when The Met museum held a retrospective showcasing some of her vast wardrobe. (I highly recommend the book rare bird of fashion that accompanied the exhibition, it has some sublime images of the garments). Mac also dedicated a range to her with super bright colours recently!

If you love the Iris’s style check out this wonderful piece written for the New York times where Apfel and some other super stylish New York ladies discuss their style.

 To me these ladies really epitomise something about vintage style- and something about fashion itself. Fashion should be about having fun, wearing what you want to wear and dressing in a way that is an extension of your personality!