Icon Iris Apfel’s Influence on Fashion in 2015

In with the old and out with a brand new year, along with 2015’s timeless, albeit “new” style trends, giving a nod to the “Rare Bird”, Iris Apfel. Apfel’s iconic fashion influence has made its presence known in fashion design when she was over a decade into her retirement after living life as a highly successful American business woman. The then 83-year-old muse became a celebrated fashion icon in 2005 when the Metropolitan Museum in New York staged an exhibition, showcasing pieces from her personal wardrobe. Since then, year after year, the former interior designer has been placing her rightful “pop of color” on the industry without blinking a feathered eye. Not only is she loved and admired from New York to Paris, Milan and beyond, but her instinctual influence is appreciated by Charlestonians alike, and their adoration for chic, colorful, timeless style.

Intro to Style Icon, Iris Apfel


Most recognized and admired for her quirky, yet original style influence and signature oversized, round glasses, this 93-year-old icon has never been a shade shy when it comes to expressing herself through clothes and accessories. Many of Charleston’s well-known boutiques are showcasing these retro styles that are reminiscent of Apfel’s most commonly worn looks.


Iris and Eyebobs

Some examples of what Charleston’s King Street has to offer includes glasses designed by Iris Apfel for Eyebobs, a hip American eyewear brand. These specs come in the form of readers, sun-readers, and polarized sunglasses, and can be found at Rapport. Iris’s designs echo her signature oversized, round frames that truly do have a glam retro-chic appeal that compliments virtually every face shape. There’s even a pair dubbed the “Rare Bird”.


Rapport IA eyeglasses

Caroline from Rapport is sporting the Iris Sunreaders — perfect for a relaxing beach¬†read throughout the year!

The fashion muse, claiming to never take herself too seriously, has always been a promoter of “style is attitude” and good design is a means of self expression. A huge fan of layering on pieces that bring her joy, Apfel’s extensive list of accessory favorites include tons of turquoise, tortoise, long strands of richly colored beads, smoking slippers and, of course, feathers …

Something that you could certainly find in Iris’s famed closet:

Bob Ellis Shoes Charlotte Olympia slippers

Charlotte Olympia velvet Kitty slippers from Bob Ellis Shoes!

Black kitty slippers by Charlotte Olympia from Bob Ellis Shoes

These fun, velvet smoking slippers from Bob Ellis Shoes would most certainly be on Iris’s wish list, and I would be surprised if she doesn’t already own a pair or two of these feline friends.

Why was Iris Apfel nicknamed the “Rare Bird”? Because of her unique style and sense of quality in luxury statement pieces. Her signature style has been named Rara Avis in which titled her widely sought-after exhibit. Feathers also had a big part to play in the matter.

Feather Milly topper

Close-up of feathers on Milly topper

This gorgeous topper by Milly, sold at King Street’s Copper Penny is trimmed in metallic and bedecked with a thick layer of feathery fringe that is sure to be “Iris-approved”.

Rare Bird

Turqoise, turquoise, turquoise, and let’s not forget, tortoise and stones! Bold, bright, statement jewelry was just as much a calling card of hers as were the big, round glasses.

Rapport turq beads

This turquoise stunner from King Street’s Rapport adds a bright, gorgeous pop of color to any piece in your wardrobe, year-round! You can wear it full-length, like Iris, or doubled for a shorter, layered look.

Iris in turq

locally made turq earrings

These beautiful turquoise drops can be found at Copper Penny (and they’re locally handmade right here in Charleston)!

Iris’s iconic style incorporated many different types of stones, tortoise shells, unique bold prints, and really anything that made a statement. One of her many well-known quotes includes “I say dress to please yourself, listen to your inner muse and take a chance. Wear something that says here I am today!”

Bold, bright prints, along with large statement pieces have always been her go-to, and a couple of my favorites on King Street include:

Akris top

… this Akris Punto record-print silk top from Rapport. A sophisticated look with an edge is spot-on in Apfel’s dress code.

CP stone statement

This beautifully bold necklace located at Copper Penny is perfect, too, and would look outstanding with a relaxed-fitting shirt and black denim.

Whatever your style-related resolution for the New Year, we can all learn a little something from the fashion industry’s beloved Iris: “Dress yourself up, make yourself happy and then you make other people happy.”

BW of Iris

Happy New Year from Charleston to the style-icon in you.

* Written for Charlestoninsideout.com in January 2015.