It's hard to articulate the firehose of emotions that I have when it comes to Iris Apfel, who — now in her late nineties — is getting the recognition as the fashion icon she's always been to those who follow the industry closely. In my mind, she's the closest thing to a punk rocker in the society crowd, a woman who has always eschewed trends in favor of personal style, who always marched to the beat of her own drums, regardless of designer labels, and whose artistic vision and unique aesthetic is now being celebrated in a pop-up shop at Bergdorf's — featuring actual items from her own closet as well as collaborations and curated pieces.
From now through March 27th, visitors to Bergdorf Goodman's Fifth Avenue flagship will be treated to a shoppable exhibition of personal castoffs from "the rare bird of fashion", including — according to Architectural Digest — an embroidered Chinese silk robe; Lucite, Bakelite, and Berber jewelry; and a bejeweled owl pendant necklace of her own design, plus exclusive collaborations between Apfel and Naeem Khan, Alain Mikli, and other designers.
Between her homes on Park Avenue and in Palm Beach, Apfel tells AD that she is "the antithesis of an organized housewife," and takes a very personal if unconventional approach to her closets.
The scene at last night's #IrisApfelxBG celebration. BG's 3rd floor was filled with #IrisApfel's closest friends to congratulate her on her new book "Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon." Thanks for stopping by @TommyHilfiger, @SeaBrinkley, @aliceandolivia, & @NickyHilton! pic.twitter.com/yhdBotHb5Y— Bergdorf Goodman (@Bergdorfs) March 16, 2018
Apfel has never hired a professional organizer or stylist, though she says she "respects others who do," preferring instead to "follow a few basic constants: she divides her clothing by occasion, maintaining separate closets for formalwear, cocktail and dressy wear, and more casual outfits (she's a big fan of tights, jeans and 'big, old sweaters' when she works). Her sweaters are all kept together, while her jewelry is stored in special bins. And she does rotate some pieces by season."
The pop-up shop at Bergdorf's will also feature wickedly fun items, celebrating the art of fashionable risk-taking, from Apfel's own wardrobe that are now part of a permanent collection at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts — which I had the pleasure of visiting during opening week back in 2013, and which inspired this DIY version of Apfel's famous googly-eye bangles.
Apfel told AD that she also regularly takes a "common sense" approach to culling the herd, and — in "celebrities, they're just like us!" fashion — donates to thrift shops, schools, and other charities, as well as to her expanding eponymous collection at the museum.
The pop-up shop coincides with the launch of Apfel's new book, Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon, and the author/tastemaker will be popping up herself at Iris Apfel x BG Windows to sign copies on Thursday March 22nd (from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.) and on Saturday March 24th (from 3 to 5 p.m.), according to the Bergdorf blog.
For those outside New York, I also highly recommend the Robert Maysles-directed Netflix documentary, Iris, which is a quirky hour-long guided tour of an interview with Apfel on her long and wonderful life, career, world travels, wardrobe, personal style, and stunning Park Avenue apartment. (See if you can spot that googly-eye bracelet!)