US fashion icon, Iris Apfel dies at age 102

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Renowned American designer and fashion icon Iris Apfel passed away at the remarkable age of 102.

The “geriatric starlet,” as she humorously referred to herself, gained recognition for her unique style, characterized by her cropped white hair, large glasses, vibrant lipstick, and chunky jewelry.

Although Apfel rose to prominence in the 1980s and 90s, she remained a fixture at Paris fashion events for over fifty years.

Her clientele included notable figures like Greta Garbo and Estée Lauder.

News of her passing was shared with her nearly three million Instagram followers through a post featuring Apfel donning her signature oversized round glasses.

US designer Tommy Hilfiger was among those to pay tribute as he praised Apfel as an “innovator and leader” in the world of textiles and style, who “will go down in history”.

“Iris Apfel has become a world-famous fashion icon because of her incredible talent not only as an artist, but as an influencer,” he said.

“She has had an amazing effect on so many people with her huge heart and magic touch with everyone she meets.”

Lenny Kravitz, the US singer, and Hannah Waddingham, known for her role in Ted Lasso, also honored Apfel’s memory.

Born into a Jewish family in New York in 1921, Apfel initially pursued studies in art history and focused on interior design, with a particular emphasis on textiles.

For many years, she dedicated herself to interior design, contributing to restoration projects at the White House, before emerging as a trendsetter in her 80s and pursuing a career as a professional model at the age of 97.

‘A kaleidoscope of colour’

Apfel’s agent Lori Sale said working alongside her was “the honour of a lifetime”.

“I will miss her daily calls, always greeted with the familiar question: ‘What have you got for me today?’ Testament to her insatiable desire to work,” Ms Sale said.

“She was a visionary in every sense of the word. She saw the world through a unique lens – one adorned with giant, distinctive spectacles that sat atop her nose.

“Through those lenses, she saw the world as a kaleidoscope of colour, a canvas of patterns and prints.

“Her artistic eye transformed the mundane into the extraordinary and her ability to blend the unconventional with the elegant was nothing short of magical.”

In 2014, she was the subject of a documentary, Iris, made by acclaimed director Albert Maysles.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight in 2015, she said she thought “dressing up should be fun” and was a “chance to play”.

“It’s part of my life because I’m a creative person and I think other people should indulge in a bit of creativity,” she said.

Asked what she thought of the idea of age-appropriate dress, she said that “if you can pull it off, it’s appropriate”.