As far mathematical equations are concerned, most are familiar with Newton’s law of gravity, Einstein’s theory of relativity, and the Pythagorean theorem. And then there’s Iris Apfel‘s equation for the best, most fabulous way accessorize your look. That wasn’t taught at school, but maybe it should have been.
By now, Apfel, 95, has perfected the secret sauce to accessorizing with panache, and her presence is all the proof you need to know that it works every single time, and for all ages.
On Tuesday night at The Polo Bar on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the fashion icon was hosting a dinner to show off her new collection for the Home Shopping Network. But all those present took it as a seminar in an art form Apfel has come to symbolize better than anyone.
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Guests were instructed to wear neutral looks for the occasion, as for Apfel to have a clean canvas on which to style her new designs. Upon arrival, everyone was presented with a pair of her signature circle glasses—but it quickly became clear that she was perhaps the only woman on earth who could pull off that particular look with ease.
This is not the first time Apfel has hosted styling tutorials in her long and storied career. An example of one of her charming and empowering master classes can be seen in the namesake 2014 Albert Maysles documentary, Iris. And she’s also been known to make guest appearances at fashion schools around the country. Not only does Apfel have almost a century of styling and design experience to share, but she’s also got endless opinions on everything.
Apfel got right down to business. For starters, each guest at was offered an array of overcoats to choose from as their base layer. The styles ranged from roomy kimonos to fringe suede shawls to velvet robes. And of course, each top provided a pop of color or a unique print—or both. From there, it was up to Apfel to decide what was needed to complete the look.
According to the master herself, there are six accessories that make a look: A chunky statement necklace, a bold bangle bracelet, a flashy pin, a large rock, hoop earrings, and a clutch. It’s important to note that all of the above work best as layered plurals. As her own mantra goes: “More is more and less is a bore.”
For a boxy, cream-colored quilted jacket, a geometric pyramid necklace was chosen; for an orange kimono, colorful pom poms; and a latticed fringe shawl was complimented with chunky chains of every color. Last but not least, Apfel was upset that a bedazzled owl pin hadn’t yet found a home, and made a point to place it on the breast of her final muse. Being the rare bird herself, the collection makes clear her particular affinity for feathered friends.
Despite their differences, each completed look received the same response: “Look at yourself in the mirror,” Apfel said with a smile. “You look fabulous.”
Before sitting down for dinner, the room appeared to be filled with Iris Apfel clones. Everyone giddily donned their glasses, overcoats, and accessories—agreeing that they looked far more sophisticated than when they walked in.
Apfel sat at the head of the table and made a toast, transitioning from sartorial advice to gastronomical: “The burger is my favorite,” she said. “And everyone eat some crackers or bread before you drink.”
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“Caught by the paparazzi on the way to the Dries van Noten show! I’m a geriatric starlet!”
“It was such a pleasure to be in Paris enjoying my friend Dries van Noten’s FW16 show before my exhibition at Le Bon Marché!”
“What a spectacular show! I enjoyed seeing Dries again and congratulating him on a stunning collection.”
“I may be in Paris, but I always love seeing friends from New York! Here I am with my good friend Linda Fargo.”
“I had a great time with Mademoiselle Agnes at the 7L library. Merci Karl Lagerfeld!”
“Here I am finally walking into my exhibit at Le Bon Marche with Patrice Wagner, President of Le Bon Marche.”
“Le Bon Marche also created a collection inspired by me! The collection includes my favorite Mongolian wool bag, sunglasses inspired by my signature specs, (the bigger the better!) and a bowtie, often worn by my husband Carl.”
“It has been so fun seeing my exhibit at Le Bon Marche come to life! I have always enjoyed sharing my style and my passion for creating is stronger than ever.”
“I think this would go great in my collection!”
“Off to the International Women’s Day Luncheon at the American Embassy in Paris.”
“What a fun table! Here I am with actress Marisa Berenson and Kathy Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation. These women inspire me, even at 94!”
“Quick stop for lunch at Ladurée of course! It has always been my favorite place in Paris to satisfy my sweet tooth.”
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