Here’s something I bet you didn’t know about me – I have a huge soft spot for senior citizens. They’re usually incredibly wise, hilarious and super cute too. So naturally I would choose to feature an elderly lady in today’s blog post. In last week’s Kiehl’s Pioneers By Nature blog post, I mentioned I would be telling you a bit more about an inspirational person in my life. Granted, I don’t know this lady personally (gosh, I wish I did!) but I feel like she has quite an impact on my life, even if it is an indirect impact. She is known as a trendsetter, a style legend but I don’t consider her an inspiration for these reasons (fashion isn’t something that interests me at this point in my life).
Iris Apfel is bold, colourful, eccentric, assertive and delightfully unscripted. At 94, this self-proclaimed ‘geriatric starlet’ is a gem of wit, beauty and smarts. She’s known for her chunky accessories, her quirky ensembles and her signature owlish eyewear – “the bigger to see you,” she likes to say. But aside from all that, her confidence, no-nonsense attitude and sense of humour makes you want to be her best friend (even if there is a 60 year age gap).
Iris is a formidable presence, and she refuses to be anything other than quick-witted, brutally honest and above all, herself. She is a 94-year-old woman who isn’t afraid to say what she thinks – she lives the ultimate authentic life and believes that you should be who you are, and not what someone else wants you to be. Even though many people around the world see Iris as fashion guru, she is adamant that she is “NOT a fashionsta” and does not want to be known “just for getting dressed”. She often says she would never spend $700 (R 7000) on a handbag – not because she doesn’t have $700 to spend, but because she doesn’t think handbags should cost that much.
Iris is known for her remarkable collection of couture costume jewellery, she is a talented artist and uses all her clothing and accessories to compose works of art that are worthy of a number of art exhibitions and museums in the US. Here are a few (of many) memorable moments in Iris Apfel’s life thus far:
♥ Her career started as an interior designer and textile maker which took her to all corners of the world to source rare antique fabrics.
♥ Years later she worked in Washington D.C. to lead a White House restoration project for the Kennedys.
♥ She rose to fame in 2005 when the Metropolitan Museum of Art mounted an exhibit celebrating her ability to boldly mix flea market finds with haute couture. Many fashion icons come into the public eye quite early on in life, but Apfel became a celebrity at the age of 83.
♥ A version of the show is now on view at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. She originally started donating 80 to 90 pieces of her clothing and jewelry annually to the museum in 2010; to date she has donated almost 900 pieces to the Peabody Essex Museum.
♥ This free-spirited darling made her vibrant makeup debut in 2011 when she became a MAC Cosmetics spokeswoman and created her own collection.
♥ She is the star of the documentary ‘Iris’, directed by 87-year old Albert Maysles. The documentary is a story about creativity and how, even at Iris’ age, a free spirit and radical individualist inspires people from all walks of life. She reminds us that dressing, and life, is nothing but an experiment.
Over the years Iris has shared many pearls of wisdom, here are a few of my favourites:
“You learn as you grow up, if you’re intelligent – or even three-quarter witted – that there’s no free lunch. You pay for things in various ways. Living, loving, everything else is a matter of the same principles: You learn to work with what you have. And there’s nobody today who can’t do something to help herself.”
“When I wake up in the morning, some days I feel a certain way, some days I feel another way. I’ll say I live by the ten commandments if that sounds good for you. But live and let live is my motto; I don’t sit and judge anybody. I always feel it’s better to be happy than well dressed. I go with my gut, I don’t do things intellectually.”
“If you don’t learn constantly, you don’t grow and you will wither. Too many people wither on the vine. Sure, it gets a little harder as you get older, but new experiences and new challenges keep it fresh.”
“I’m not good at putting on makeup, but you have to be a moron not to be able to put on lipstick. Now since I’m older, I don’t do my eyes anymore because when you’re older, your eyelids wrinkle. If you use blue or green, and you’re not really expert, you end up looking like a turtle.”
“I’m not a rebel. I don’t dress to cause attention or to upset anybody. I dress to please myself, and I hope I please other people. And if I do I’m very happy and if not, it’s their problem, not mine.”
“Aging gracefully is about no heavy makeup, and not too much powder because it gets into the wrinkles, and you know, to not get turtle eyelids, and to not try to look young. You don’t have to look like an old fuddy-duddy, but I believe it was Chanel who said, ‘Nothing makes a woman look so old as trying desperately hard to look young’. I think you can be attractive at any age. I think trying to look like a spring chicken when you’re not makes you look ridiculous.”
“I don’t see anything so wrong with a wrinkle. It’s kind of a badge of courage.”
“If you’re not interested, you’re not interesting.”
“I always tell people to follow their dreams, to be true to themselves, and not just be carbon copies of what they think they should be, because then they’ll go through life miserable. And it’s phony. I think we live in a button-driven society, everybody is always pressing buttons to get the answers. More and more people live without soul, they’re just an empty shell.”
“You have to know yourself and know what you can carry. If you’re not comfortable, no matter how well dressed you are, you’re not going to look right. I’d rather be happy and feel comfy.”
“You have to try it. You only have one trip, you’ve got to remember that.”
Iris Apfel has inspired me in the following ways: It’s never too late (for anything in life). Find something that you feel passionate about and express yourself by channeling your passions. Be your authentic self, even if people judge you. Individuality, personality and confidence are beautiful traits in everyone. Be curious. Have a sense of humour. And trust your gut.
One thing is for sure, Iris Apfel is definitely my spirit animal. And at the risk of sounding utterly childish, she is exactly the type of person I want to be when I grow up.
Kiehl’s South Africa and I want to hear from YOU! Who inspires you? Who do you look up to? Who in your life has achieved something great? Remember: It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone you know personally.
If you tell me, you could win yourself a Kiehl’s #PioneersByNature hamper worth over R 2200,00! The hamper will contain the following products:
♥ Lip Balm #1 in Mint – you can read a review of this wonderful lip balm here, this is the only lip product I have been using these past few weeks.
♥ Midnight Recovery Concentrate – you already know I love this facial oil, I have featured it on the blog numerous times already. You can take a look at my full review here.
♥ Dermatologist Solutions Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturising Serum Concentrate – love this stuff! It is exactly what dehydrated skin needs, you can read my rave review here.
♥ Dermatologist Solutions Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate – 2015 is the year of celebration, because this brightening serum is 10 years old! I started using this last year and loved it so much I mentioned it in my August 2014 Favourites blog post. If your skin is looking dull and lacklustre, trust me, you need this in your life!
The giveaway is open to South African residents only.
A winner will be chosen on the 14th of October 2015 & I will announce the winner on Twitter, Facebook and in this blog post.
Disclaimer: The above photos are courtesy of Fashion Reverie, The Guardian, One Kings Lane, and Abercrombie Gems.