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  • Kathy Shimpock

Iris Apfel (1921 - 2024) - Doing the unexpected

Updated: Mar 6



During these days of uncertainty, many women seek strong, positive, wise and vital examples of aging.  Fortunately, such role models exist. These women embody the character of the wise old woman archetype. Their lives provide inspiration and guidance for the darkest of days.


Iris is an interior designer and fashion icon.  In 2005, the Metropolitan Museum of Art had a showing of her fashion style (oversized jewelry and eye glass frames with bright, eccentric clothing combinations). She became an overnight sensation at 84 years old and a cover girl in her 90s!   Her individualistic, unique and playful fashion style encourages older women to step out of the shadows. The Museum said of her style, "Her originality is typically revealed in her mixing of high and low fashions - Dior haute couture with flea market finds, 19th century ecclesiastical vestments with Dolce & Gabbana lizard trousers." Her style and free spirit has captured the imagination of many.  Signs of her late life success are many.  A Barbie doll was made after her image and she was the subject of a 2014 documentary about her life.  Iris once said, "I never expected people to know my name or recognize my face, I never expected to be called a fashion icon.  I never expected museums to exhibit my clothing and accessories. I never expected to be a cover girl or the face of a cosmetics company in my nineties... I never expected anything.  I just feel things in my gut and I go them.  If something sounds exciting and interesting I do it - and then I worry about it later.  Doing new things takes a lot of energy and strength.  Its very tiring to make things happen, to learn how to master a skill, to push fears aside.  Most people would rather just go with the flow: it's much easier.  But it's not very interesting."


Who is a wise old woman/crone role model to you?

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