The Iris Apfel of Albert Maysles’ Eye

Update 3/23/15: Iris Apfel’s documentary had its official premiere last night at the Paris Theatre in New York, drawing the likes of J. Crew’s Jenna Lyons, Bruce Weber, and jeweller Alexis Bittar. The last film made by Albert Maysles, ‘Iris’ releases to the public April 29, and continues its nationwide rollout through June.


Iris, the long-awaited documentary about the living legend Iris Apfel, soft-launched last night in New York, with continued roll-out in other cities scheduled through June 2015. The film is remarkable in many ways, not least because it was the last project by Albert Maysles, the co-creator of Grey Gardens (the cult 1975 film that followed Little and Big Edie Beale around their dilapidated East Hampton manse) who died just weeks ago at the age of 88.

Remarkable in her own right, Iris — who’s reached the very golden age of 93 — was the subject of the Met’s yearly fashion exhibit in 2005, Rara Avis. Without her, it’s quite likely we would not be seeing other celebrated senior supes, most notably Joan Didion for Céline, Joni Mitchell for Saint Laurent, Jessica Lange for Marc Jacobs Beauty, and Charlotte Rampling for Nars.


Iris Apfel first rose to prominence in the 1950s, when she and her husband Carl — who reached 100 during filming — founded Old World Weavers, a textile company hired by no fewer than nine presidents for White House restorations, as well as numerous museums around the world looking to spiff up their textile collections.

Aside from her own extraordinary collection of textiles, Iris is known for an idiosyncratic mix-and-match personal style — not to mention enormous specs — and her disarmingly candid way of speaking that others gravitate toward. In the film, we see Bruce Weber, Jenna Lyons, and Kanye West being introduced to her and gushing hard. We also watch as she and Carl, both barely encumbered by age, continue to dote on each other in their Park Avenue apartment, as energetic and curious as ever.

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