Fashion is what you have, Style is who you are.

Betsey Johnson
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The Beautiful Life Of Style Icon Iris Apfel

I am so excited this year at STLFW the amazing Iris Apfel will be in attendance. You have to understand I admire her and have for a long time so this is truly an amazing opportunity. Iris Apfel is typically named a Fashion Icon because typically a Style Icon is more along the lines of an 'Audrey' type which obviously Iris does not fit. She has been coined 'The Rare Bird Of Fashion' with her very unique style and over the top accessories that only she can pull off. My definition of a 'Style Icon' and the key ingredients needed to be one absolutely fits the beautiful Iris Apfel but don't tell her she is pretty she hates pretty.

When she was young she worked at Loemanns department store in New York I believe as a sales associate and Mrs Loemann had been watching her. Well as Iris tells it, she comes up to her and says 'you will never be pretty' could you imagine saying that to anyone? What would typically be a horrible thing to say to a women was followed with 'but you have something special, you have style'. Style is more then clothes, makeup and hair it is not about what you have but it is who you are. Not everyone will have that, it can't be bought and you can't inherit it. Iris may not be a classic beauty like Grace Kelly but she is a Style Icon in her own right.

First and foremost Iris is a business woman from being a successful sought after interior designer to the textile company she and her husband started. Everything she has done she has done with style and passion. She has worked with several First Ladies to decorate the White House to other influential people becoming one of the most sought after interior designers. She had such a passion for what she did it led her to the textile world, after not being able to find fabrics and patterns she wanted she and her husband, Carl stated a textile company. Being Iris every piece they made had to be perfect, ornate with every detail inspected to fit her vision. Eventually, the fashion world took notice of her, her unique style and love of life. She was now known as "The Rare Bird Of Fashion"

She is rare, there is no one else in the world quite like Iris but to be a style icon you need to leave a mark on the world. I challenge you to tell me she hasn't done that. If you look at Iris and read her story you just might see that she probably influenced Jenna Lyons. Jenna was not told she was pretty, she was not what fashion typically embraces. Today with her black rimmed glasses (maybe influenced by Iris' famous round glasses), unique style or mixing cheaper finds with highend designer items I often wonder if Iris opened a door that Jenna may have thought would not open for someone like her. Iris has lived through the depression, she is 94 so she has had loss in her life. I heard her say once that life is dull so why not dress to have fun, I think that sums up her style completely.

What makes her a Style Icon:

She has a definite style

She has lived a beautiful life

She has had an impact on the world she lives in

She is authentic

She is smart and accomplished

She is kind

She is adventurous

Well traveled

She has given back, leaving a footprint and legacy that will be here long after she leaves us

She has surrounded herself with things she loves, that mean something to her

Facts you may not know about Iris:

Her mother owned a fashion boutique and the best fashion advice she got from her mother was the importance of having a good black dress. That having a good black dress means you have something to wear for anything from everyday to a night out by changing how you styled it. I believe this is probably were her love of accessories started but it is great advice!

Iris Apfel says she was the first woman to wear jeans in the forties. That the crisp white button down shirt with a pair of jeans you wear just might have first been worn by Iris.

Iris and Carl never had children because she wanted to be able to travel and live the life she did and know she couldn't do both. She watched her mother have to give up that part of her life to have kids and remembered how she felt when her mother left her to travel

Her collection of clothes, accessories and kitchy collections that she has cultivated over decades from her travels have been displayed in several galleries including the Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 2013 she began teaching and mentoring college students about fashion and the lost art of couture

Her love of fashion was influenced by women in Harlem. She would watch them as they went to church on Sunday and admired their sense of fashion.

She loves going to flea markets, bazaars and smaller stores to find pieces for her accessory collection. She also loves to work out a good deal.

She married her husband Carl in 1948, they had a beautiful relationship that unfortunately ended this year. Carl died just days before his 101st Birthday. They had that once in a lifetime relationship that most of us never get. He adored her and was completely devoted to her. He enjoyed her sense of adventure and never held her back. They lived the life they wanted to live, the way the wanted to do it. They traveled the world and they both loved the beauty around them they were a true real life 'fairy tale' romance. I am sure that when Carl passed a piece of Iris went with him but here she is still moving, still working and about to bless St Louis with her inner beauty and inspirational life.

My Favorite Things About Iris:

On plastic surgery: She is against it and you risk looking worse then you did before you went in and all for a few wrinkles.

She hates pretty, pretty is boring. Pretty fades and when it does you lose the way you defined yourself. She wasn't pretty so she didn't rely on what she looked like instead she relied on her style and style is forever

She is out spoken, opinionated and not afraid to tell you how it is

Iris doesn't dress for anyone else but Iris. Trends don't influence her and she has never tried to conform to what society says she should be

She is one of my inspirations in my 'reinvention' being a woman that has stayed relevant in a world that is typically only for the young, rich and beautiful. She chooses to be happy dispite her losses


October 17th

STLFW Bouitique Hop offering cockails and special deals at local boutiques to find the perfect out for your red carpet look for the Calers Emerging Designer Award Fashion Show for details and tickets visit STLFW

November 4th

Fashion Fund Gala before the STLFW show a rare opportunity to support the Fashion Fund and to meet Iris Apfel for details go to The Fashion Fund

November 4th

Union Station Iris Apfel along with several other leading influencers in fashion will be in attendance to Calers Emerging Designer Award Fashion Show. This is a New York caleber fashion show in the heart of the Midwest. Details for the event can be found at STLFW

For more upcoming Fashion Events check out the schedule at STLFW  as well as Event Brite

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