Flamboyantly fashionable and filter-free, 93-year-old Iris Apfel is a delightfully quirky muse for legendary documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles’s final solo film, Iris.
Among the people Maysles (who died in March at age 88) introduced us to over the decades with filmmaking brother David were the wonderful eccentrics “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale of 1975’s Grey Gardens. Apfel shares Little Edie’s strong personality, love of life and arresting sense of kookily personal style, seen everywhere in this gorgeously entertaining and affectionately crafted doc.
Interior designer, model and influencer, Apfel’s massive clothing and costume jewelry collection was even the subject of a 2005 exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Yet she’s tickled to make a deal for plastic bracelets in a junky Manhattan store. “I get more of a kick out of this that costs $4 and change than if my husband took me to Harry Winston,” she purrs when netting a bargain.
Wearing massive costume jewelry and expressive, eclectic clothing, the woman in the oversized black-rimmed eyeglasses is the centre of attention in every room, including her kitschy, jammed New York apartment. Everybody from a J. Crew executive to Kanye West gush over her in Iris. She’s no snob; Apfel is thrilled to meet them, too.
Queens-born Apfel and husband Carl, whose 100th birthday is a sweet note of poignancy in Iris, helped redecorate the White House for nine presidential administrations through their company Old World Weavers. Jackie Kennedy, a relative of those Grey Gardens Edies, was problematic, admits Carl. Iris hushes him with a reminder they’re not supposed to blab. If only they would!
Outwardly, the Apfels seem hardly typical, but like many seniors, they’re dealing with downsizing. Although in their case, it means Iris overseeing the clearing of a warehouse packed with goods and fashions collected all over the world.
Shot with Maysles’ typical cinéma-vérité approach, Iris works best when Apfel appears unaware of the camera, although she has some lovely, flirtatious asides for Maysles.
She hasn’t got time to mince words but her honesty isn’t mean-spirited. Apfel is merely speaking the truth about life, happiness and style. And the truth is, you’ve got to dress like you mean it — and show a little class along the way. Get more info HERE