Dates and Venue July 11 4:30pm, July 13 5:15pm, July 15 5:15pm, July 16 4:15pm & Jul y 18 2:15pm | Vancity Theatre
Reviewer Maria Figueiredo
ever did I expected to do,” Iris Apfel, the New York fashionista,
explains in Iris, a new documentary by Albert Maysles. “It
just kind of happened.” As a nonagenarian, Apfel is a marvellous
example of verve, colour (“Color can raise the dead!”) and
idiosyncratic style. The documentary illustrates her fast-paced life
through a kaleidoscope of brilliant, short scenes.
“Pretty,” explains Iris “fades with age but style never does!”
In 1948, she married Carl Apfel. They opened a textile firm, Old World Weavers and worked on numerous restoration projects including work at the White House for 9 Presidents and their First Ladies. Jackie Kennedy she implied was not easy to please.
Iris also launched a big interior design business of her own and sold antiques through the firm's showrooms around the country. For this, she and her husband travelled extensively, especially to Europe.
The documentary shows Iris haggling for a deal on bangles in Harlem- she only wants cheap ones, three for twenty dollars. She favours churchwomen’s “Sunday best” in Harlem to the uniform, black paraded in Soho. In the film we watch her commuting between New York City and Florida, sometimes taking fifty phone calls a day. She is doing all this at the age of 93 and says she is not going to stop. She loves it too much.
Her style is very eclectic. She collects all sorts of things and puts them together as she sees fit often startling the conservative women with bright colours, layers of big jewelry, bold and stunning clothes. Her shopping sprees include going to flea markets as much as to fancy, expensive shops. She believes in using anything that is original and has pizzazz. She has used church vestments and bright blankets to dress in.
Iris' huge round-framed,
signature eyewear inspired a 2005–6 exhibition at the Met.
She loves her old
stuff “like old friends” and has difficulty in parting with
the things she has. Two huge warehouses store many of her treasures.
She is slowly getting rid of much and says she does not buy stuff now--
except for jewelry.
Albert Maysles, a canonic New York documentarian who died this March, at 88 produced a lively, captivating movie about a “rare bird of fashion” as she is now known. Not only does it teach the viewer much about style but also gives him/her many life lessons through humour and creativity.
© 2015 Maria Figueiredo