The best that most of us could hope for on our 100th birthday is a letter from the Queen. But Iris Apfel — style muse, top model, fashion influencer and owner of quite possibly the world’s biggest ‘bug-eyed’ spectacles — celebrated the milestone by unveiling her first High Street clothing line with fashion-forward H&M.
But then Iris stands unrivalled as the world’s greatest centenarian fashion doyenne: flamboyant, eccentric, a maximalist, instantly recognisable from those specs and expertly coiffed hair.
On her Instagram (2.1 million followers and counting) is the slogan ‘more is more and less is a bore’. And judging from the new range, above, that mantra’s remained at the heart of her design ideas. What you wear and how you act, believes Iris, needn’t be determined by the number of years you’ve been on the planet.
Iris Apfel (pictured) is celebrating her milestone birthday with the release of a 36-piece collection with H&M
Iris made her name as one of America’s most eminent interior designers, working with the wives of nine presidents — from Harry Truman’s wife, Bess, to Hillary Clinton — when they wanted to makeover the inside of the White House.
But in 2005, at the age of 84, her fashion career took off following an exhibition of her flamboyant personal style at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Since then she has appeared in ads for major brands and department stores including Macy’s, Citroen and Kate Spade, until, at the sprightly age of 97, finally spotting her potential, she was snapped up by the world’s biggest model agency, IMG.
Her range for H&M is for those people who ‘want to look a little bit different’, but don’t have a small fortune to spend on doing so.
‘To me, it was a perfect fit,’ she explains of a collaboration which has a laser focus on individualism. That may sound like a contradiction when it comes to the High Street, but it couldn’t be more true. The whole 36-piece collection is a wonderful attack on the senses.
Shirt and trousers, £69.99 each, top, £19.99, and shoes, £119.99, hm.com
Top, £39.99, and skirt, £119.99, hm.com; shoes, £195, russellandbromley.co.uk
Jacket, £119.99, top, £19.99, trousers, £79.99, and ring, £29.99, hm.com
Just look at the turquoise blue jacquard suit with its oversized boxy jacket and wide leg trousers. Covered in tropical leaves, it has an iridescent sheen and is embellished with pearls.
Or try the satin pyjama-style suit with an extraordinary black, red and blue print clashing with swathes of mustard yellow. The lilac ruffle jacket is brilliantly bonkers but great fun and a treat to wear. Yes, it has a £229 price tag, but it will look like you spent a lot more than that.
The tropical print tiered skirt will be a great addition to your summer wardrobe. We’ve teamed it with the matching tropical print blouse here, but if you’re not feeling quite so bold, it can easily be dressed down with a simple vest or white shirt.
Shirt and trousers, £69.99 each, and earrings, £39.99, hm.com
Tunic, £79.99, and shoes, £119.99, hm.com
Jacket, £229.99, and trousers, £69.99, hm.com
You don’t have to be an eclectic dresser to enjoy Iris’s range; all the pieces can easily be broken up and will work brilliantly with your existing wardrobe.
And if you’re feeling wary of the sunglasses-needed colour palette, then the black kaftan-esque dress is the thing for you. The accessories are fabulous, too — think green frog brooches (£69.99) and beetle-adorned loafers (£149) — and are an easy way to add interest to an everyday outfit without prompting too many stares.
‘I love the idea of doing high and low . . . Now, it’s all so homogenised; everyone copies everybody else and there’s hardly anything new,’ rails Iris, who is here to ensure that you don’t blend into a sea of ditsy print dresses and denim jeans this spring.
- Shop the Iris Apfel X H&M range, priced from £19.99 to £229.99, at hm.com from March 31.