fashion

Iris Apfel, 97-year-old style icon, signs major modeling contract

Updated 6th February 2019
Credit: via iris apfel and the landmark
Iris Apfel, 97-year-old style icon, signs major modeling contract
Written by By Emily Dixon, CNN
Style luminary Iris Apfel has already starred in a documentary about her life, fronted fashion campaigns alongside Jourdan Dunn and Karlie Kloss, and been the subject of an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Now, at the age of 97, she's reached another industry milestone: signing a major modeling contract, with global agency IMG.
Apfel will be agency-mates with supermodels like Kloss, Joan Smalls, Kate Moss, Chrissy Teigen and Bella and Gigi Hadid. There's no need for her to make a name for herself, however. Her penchant for bold colors, textures and patterns -- alongside her trademark oversized round glasses -- have long established her status as a stylemaker, and she's already appeared in Vogue Italia, was on the cover of Dazed & Confused, and created her own makeup line with MAC Cosmetics.
Words of wisdom from a 'geriatric starlet'
New Yorker Apfel started as an interior designer and co-owner of the textile firm Old World Weavers, which she launched with her late husband, Carl. She carried out design projects at the White House under every president from Truman to Clinton, aside from George H. W. Bush.
In recent years, however, her eclectic personal style has won her fame -- much to Apfel's surprise. She told WWD, "My husband, until he passed on, we used to sit there and laugh and laugh, and I'd say I'm no different than I was 70 years ago, and all of a sudden, I'm cool, I'm a hot property. It's ridiculous."
Her 2005 "Rara Avis" exhibition was the Metropolitan Museum of Art's first exhibition of clothing and accessories dedicated to a living non-designer. She has since launched lines of jewelry and ready-to-wear fashion, as well as a 2018 book, "Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon."
Last year, at the age of 96, she became the oldest person to have a Barbie doll created in her image.
Iris Apfel and blogger BryanBoy attend front row at Monse in September 2016.
Iris Apfel and blogger BryanBoy attend front row at Monse in September 2016. Credit: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
"I go at it full, I'm very passionate about what I do," Apfel told CNN last year. "I put my heart and soul (into things) and it feeds me. I push myself until I can't anymore and then come back again for more. I'm a glutton for punishment."
Speaking to WWD, she said, "I don't think a number should make any difference and make you stop working. I think retirement is a fate worse than death. I love to work, and love my work. I feel sorry for people who don't like what they do. I do it now to the exclusion of everything else. I meet interesting, creative people, my juices flow and I really have a fine time."
"Who would think I would be a 97-year-old cover girl?" Apfel said.