Monday, June 29, 2015

Eating my feelings


My golden lady

It was really important for me to capture the classic Hollywood essence of granny she was our very own golden icon and epitomized the word lady. Added the modern hint of graffitied /roses  the entire family got into the signature color. It was really a beautiful thing and the most cherished event I have ever had the honor of creating. 

Photos by Eric Blackshire 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Iris Apfel #AMERiCON forever bae

This goddess is 93 years old how progressive she has to have been to have this much eclecticism within her in a climate where this was surely locked I love her she is everything 

An excerpt from a 2011 piece

'Now when I walk down Fifth Avenue in the summertime I just want to throw up. It seems that the fatter and uglier people are, the fewer clothes they wear. The shorts and flip-flops and tight jeans on butts that go from here to Poughkeepsie.'

She shudders. 'I always say they should put people in jail for wearing clothes like that. Especially stretch jeans over size 10 [a UK size 14] - they should be outlawed. Ten years ago people were starting to look like slobs in New York, now it's an epidemic.'

If this is what she thinks of people in New York, I wonder what opinion she has of street fashion in London. 'I haven't been in London for some years but the last time I was there they looked fuddy-duddy and school-marmish, yes, but not slobby. And then there are the wonderful eccentrics like the kids on Carnaby Street or the punks or whatever the heck they are.'

Nevertheless, her heart is in New York City. 'I love London and Paris; they're very sophisticated, but not like New York. If you can't find it in New York, it doesn't exist.'

Born Iris Barrel, she grew up in Queens. She was an only child, her father a decorator and her mother the owner of a fashion boutique. 'My mother was quite a clothes-horse and she loved to dress me up so I became rather enamoured of clothes.'

She describes an occasion when her mother arranged for her to have a formal portrait taken. 'I had all these romantic ideas but the truth is I looked like a piece of clay that had to be sculpted.'

Her father was a maverick. 'He didn't care what anyone thought and he didn't care about clothes. My mother would have to drag him into a shop. He'd put one leg in a suit and say, "I'll take it."

'She'd get crazy and say, "You don't even know if it fits." He'd say, "Oh, it will be all right, let's go." I sometimes do the same. If I see something that I like and the price is good and the fabric is beautiful I say, "Oh, well, if it doesn't fit I can make pillows out of it."'

As a teenager, says Apfel, she was fat. 'I was very unhappy so I ate and ate and ate and no clothes would fit me. My mother used to tear her hair out when she took me shopping. I used to die because my mother had a gorgeous figure and the salesgirl would always say to me, "Why don't you be slim like your mother?"'

She started smoking, which helped her lose weight. 'I used to smoke like a fiend. I smoked four packs a day. I never do anything half-arsed, shall we say, but I stopped because I felt I was getting to be an addict. I've got very good willpower.'

She became friends with Duke Ellington, whom she first met when she was writing a paper on jazz. Hearing he was in town, she went to see him. 'I got all dressed up; I think I had more nerve than brains. I went backstage and knocked on the door and Ray Nance [Ellington's trumpeter] came out and said, "Lordy, lordy, who's your tailor?"

'I explained my mission and he said he was sure the Duke would see me. The Duke couldn't have been nicer and said he'd introduce me to all the greats in Chicago. My mother was very dubious, so I told her, "He's the most elegant gentleman." She said, "I don't give a damn how elegant he is, you're not going to Chicago." But I did.'

Her first job was as a copywriter for Women's Wear Daily. 'I was a copy girl and I made the magnificent sum of $15 a week. Eventually I worked out that I would never get anywhere there. All the women who worked there were middle-aged and I said to myself, "They're too old to have babies and go on maternity leave and too young to die, so you'd better get your butt out of here."'

So she quit and started work for the illustrator Bob Goodman. 'He paid me $35 a week, which was more than all the different boys I went out with.'

Iris played the field until she met Carl Apfel at a resort on Lake George in upstate New York. 'He told my friend that he thought I was very attractive if only I would go and have my nose fixed. So I said, "You can tell him to go fly a kite."

'Anyway, some weeks later I came home from work and the phone was ringing off the hook. He said, "That was a stunning outfit you were wearing today and I particularly loved your hat" - he had been on a bus on Fifth Avenue and had seen me on the sidewalk.

'Anyway, I was very busy and the first date I could give him was about six weeks later on Columbus Day.' After that, things moved quickly. 'Thanksgiving he proposed, Christmas I got my ring, Washington's birthday we married and our honeymoon was over on St Patrick's Day.'

I ask what it was about him that made him different from her other boyfriends. 'He was very easy and very funny and we just hit it off. First of all he ordered my dinner. I have so many decisions to make all day long that I really don't want to decide what I have to eat, too. So it was perfect.'

Together they launched a textile firm, Old World Weavers, which designed fabrics for the White House and clients such as Estée Lauder, and Iris became a fixture on the New York social scene, often photographed in the style section of the New York Times.

Her outrageous outfits and huge glasses made her instantly recognisable. 'When I needed to wear glasses, I decided I'd wear glasses. All the better to see you with.'

She and Carl ran their company until they retired in 1992. Then in 2005 Harold Koda, the curator of the Costume Institute in New York, asked if she would agree to an exhibition of her jewellery and accessories.

'It didn't start out as a fashion show,' says Apfel, 'but he decided that to show accessories out of context didn't make much sense so he asked if I could spare maybe five outfits… I said yes, so they went through all my closets, all the drawers, all the boxes, all the armoires, under the bed, everywhere and they go woowoowoooo [she flaps her arms up and down]. Finally they ended up with 82 outfits. It was insanity but the show was such a big smash.'

The exhibition transformed her from a quirky eccentric into a fashion paragon. Since then versions of the show have appeared at museums around America and Apfel's life has changed utterly:

'I've always been well known in my field but since the first show it's gotten insane. I'm very grateful at my stage of the game to have all this happen. It makes me laugh and laugh; it's ridiculous, because underneath I'm the same person I've always been.'

Certainly she remains as outspoken as ever: 'Most of the young people today look dreadful. And celebrities look even worse. They don't know what to do with themselves.

'At the Golden Globes and Oscars they all look alike - it seems like they're all wearing the same nightgown and this year nobody had any jewellery at all. Only Helen Mirren was wearing a beautiful necklace, but even she got it wrong because the necklace just ruined the dress. I think the designer must have wanted to kill himself when he saw her.'

I ask if she is ever tempted to say something to someone who she thinks looks dreadful. 'Oh, now that would be horrible. It's a free country - if you want to look like a freak, that's your problem.'