At age 97, Iris Apfel is the world’s ultimate age-defying fashion icon. With her oversize sunglasses, stacks of bangles, red lipstick and colorful ensemble, she sure knows how to make an impression — so much so that renowned modeling agency IMG took notice and signed her into its roster of models next to Gigi Hadid, Kaia Gerber and more. And now, on March 6, she releases her very first book, Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon, containing musings, anecdotes, essays on style and other subjects and illustrations that give us an inside look into her ever-stylish brain.
She is proof that age is just as number, and as she embarks upon this new adventure, it is a perfect time to review where her fashion chops come from — and the mark she has left in pop culture — with the documentary about her life, Iris.
In this 2014 documentary produced by late veteran documentarian Albert Maysles, we get a peek at the business woman behind the eclectic style and big Jackie-O glasses. She discusses fashion, art, people and the difference between fashion and style, which she has practiced since her middle-class upbringing in Queens, New York, during the Great Depression. You get a look at the jewelry, clothes and art she has collected throughout the years, how she shops and approaches personal style, even when styling her home.
And while you are at it, take a break from your series of choice this weekend and binge our two favorite documentaries about beauty and fashion industry legends instead — those in great company with Apfel.
Legendary celebrity makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin is still regarded as the most famous makeup artist in the world. And yet, his journey to stardom is the story of a troubled upbringing as an adopted gay man in Lafayette, La. Throughout the documentary — where Tiffany Bartok completed her directorial debut — we get an intimate glimpse at his love of makeup at an early age and how he spent a large portion of his life making sense of his history and identity, starting from his abandonment trauma to his search for his natural mother. This documentary sheds new light onto his life through never-seen-before footage recorded by Aucoin himself before his passing in 2002 at the age of 40. There are interviews with his most famous clients, including Cindy Crawford, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tina Turner and Naomi Campbell, who all sound off about their special relationship with him and how he made it his life’s mission to make beautiful women even more beautiful.
Few figures are as inspiring and mystifying as the legendary Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue editor, Diana Vreeland. Before she passed in 1989 at the age of 85, she joined a list of cultural icons who defined fashion in the 20th century. Based on interviews she did with American journalist George Plimpton for her memoir, the film chronicles her life from her socialite upbringing in Paris, to her first job at Harper’s Bazaar, to Vogue (where she was eventually let go due to excessive spending) to helping The Metropolitan Museum of Art launch its Costume Institute, which later spurred the Met Gala. We see Jane Pauley and Diane Sawyer interview Vreeland about how she helped a myriad of designers — Missoni, Manolo Blahnik, Diane von Fursternberg — launch their careers, which together with models like Verushka and photographers like David Bailey give insight into the power of her influence. Throughout the film, which is directed by her granddaughter-in-law, Lisa Immordino Vreeland (she also directed Love, Cecile about Academy Award-winning costume designer Cecile Beaton, highly recommended too), we see all shades of Diana, even unpleasant ones. But perhaps Vreeland’s biggest legacy is her ability to spot talent and draw magic out of people. When it came to beauty, she believed in pushing people’s flaws, whether these were models’ or designers’, coining the phrase, “Make it the most beautiful thing about them.”
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