‘Geriatric starlet’ Iris Apfel on style, plastic surgery and turning 100

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Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel is living proof that self-expression never goes out of style.

“You have to dress for yourself before you dress for your age,” the self-described “geriatric starlet,” who turned 100 on August 29, told Page Six Style.

She will celebrate her centennial birthday at Central Park Tower in New York City on Thursday, and shared this bit of wisdom ahead of the big event: “Be yourself! Don’t be part of the herd.”

Known for her colorful clothes, piled-on jewelry and oversized glasses — which inspired a 2005 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, catapulting Apfel to style-icon status — the model and muse shuns the notion that older people should dress demurely.

“I don’t think you have to wear sackcloth and ashes because you’re 80 years old,” she said. “I hate everybody looking the same.”

Iris Apfel

Apfel’s Instagram bio says it all: “More is more & less is a bore.”

For the record, Apfel feels similarly about Hollywood’s current crop of “pretty young girls” in their identical crop tops and mom jeans. “God gave them beautiful figures and personalities, and I don’t know why they want to hide it all and look alike,” she said.

In recent years, she’s strived to help shoppers of all ages stand out with their style, designing clothing, jewelry, beauty and home décor lines all inspired by her own outré aesthetic; just last month, she launched an eyewear line with Zenni.

The chic centenarian said she “took a fancy to oddball spectacles” as a child, scouring flea markets and yard sales for the wildest frames she could find. “Of course I didn’t need glasses then, but I thought they were a wonderful fashion accessory,” she recalled.

The look stuck, and Apfel’s still famous for her super-sized specs many decades later. “People would ask me, ‘Why are you wearing them so large?’ So one day I said, ‘The bigger to see you,’” she said with a laugh. “That kind of shut them up.”

Iris and Carl Apfel

Iris and her late husband Carl Apfel, pictured here in 2008, founded the textile company Old World Weavers in 1950. Together, they worked on restoration projects for the White House for nine different presidents.

Of course, one accessory’s never been enough for Apfel, who’s rarely spotted out and about — or on Instagram, where she’s amassed two million followers — without armloads of bracelets and layers of statement necklaces.

“My mother wore costume jewelry, and I just loved it,” she said. “I much prefer it to the real stuff — fortunately for my husband, or we would have gone to the poorhouse.”

Added Apfel of her beloved baubles, “Anything that makes life happier in this age of so many terrible things, I think, is a blessing.”

 

 

Apfel would rather age gracefully than go under the knife. “I don’t like that uptight look,” she told us, adding, “If you’re 85, nobody’s gonna think you’re 25.”

Living to greet a new century, too, is a true gift for the interior designer. As such, she feels no pressure to try and turn back the clock with a costly, multi-step skincare regimen (“I’m too busy!”) or cosmetic surgery, unlike many of her fashion-world peers.

“I don’t know why there’s this mad obsession to look years younger than you are,” Apfel said. “If you’re lucky and God gives you extra years, I should think you’d want to flaunt it and not hide it.”

Besides, she added, “I see nothing wrong with a few wrinkles!”


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