Bintel Blog

Iris Apfel: a Jewish Collector of Great Style

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share

88-year-old Iris Barrel Apfel, born to a Jewish family in Astoria, Queens, has long inspired a fashion world in-crowd with her sharp eye for mixing and matching accessories in serendipitous, joyous ways. A inspired collector and shopper, not a designer, Apfel is being honored with a traveling exhibit of her fashion finds, “Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel” which runs until February 7, 2010 at The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, after previous stopovers at New York’s Metropolitan Museum; the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida; and the Nassau County Museum of Art.

Examples of her witty juxtapositions on display include a Lanvin silk taffeta gown accessorized with a 19th century silver and amber arm bracelet from Bhutan, and cuff bracelet from Tibet, . These pan-cultural mixes gave Apfel a reputation for eccentricity years ago, but her ardent fans include Jewish designer Isaac Mizrahi, who recently told The Boston Globe that until recently, people “thought of Iris as a nut. I never thought she was a nut. I thought she had a great eye and was amazing.’’

Other amazed friends include the Paris-based Israeli designer Alber Elbaz, described by Apfel in a recent interview as “just like a Jewish mother. He [is] so sweet. I think he’s a big talent. And I always like when someone is a talent and a person.” Clearly both of these herself, Apfel is a fiery, passionate collector, like Walter Benjamin, whose essay “Unpacking My Library” asserts that “ownership is the most intimate relationship one can have to objects.” For sharing her brightly vivid intimacies, thanks are due to Iris Apfel.

Watch two short videos below. The first is a short interview with Iris Apfel, produced for the Peabody Essex Museum exhibition, Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel.”

The second is a short video on Iris Apfel’s design of a window display at Nordstrom Northshore in Peabody, Massachusetts last month.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Iris Apfel

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.