Woman: I like to improvise.
I always think I like to do things as though I'm... I'm playing jazz.
Try this, try that.
Okay, the sneakers from Home Shopping.
I design them and I sell them.
Ordinary black denim jeans. I'm a denim freak.
Reminded me of a railroad man.
When I was a kid, I was a railroad buff.
These bracelets come from Harlem.
These I have such a long time, I don't even remember where they came from, but they were like slivers of black, so I love them.
And then these are just things I've been collecting over the years.
Another mad outfit.
These are my shoes, smoking slippers.
This kind of tunic is from the Mao people, Chinese minority.
It had a big hood, and I didn't like the hood, so I made it into a collar.
And this is part of my collection of amber.
And then bracelets from all over the place, including these ladybugs.
I like to put things together like this.
This is an old jacket from, uh... Ungaro.
I love the way it's lined.
And these are Gianni Versace trousers.
So they're kind of fun together.
I'll wear them with a black turtleneck.
Iris: Just has to feel right with me.
Every time I do it, I do a different way.
I like individuality.
So lost these days. There's so much sameness.
Everything is homogenized. I hate it.
Do you think we're demented?
So easy to amuse me.
I get more kick out of this that costs $4 and change than if my husband took me to Harry Winston.
Iris: People interview me and they keeping asking me about all these rules, and I say I don't have any rules because I would only be breaking them, so it's a waste of time.
With me, it's not intellectual. It's all gut.
I see something, "Oh, that'll go with this."
I'll try it on.
It's totally, totally the involvement and the process.
It's the process I like much better even than wearing it.
What could you do on these three pieces?
Fifteen, 25, 30.
How about $25 for all three?
Can you do $20?
Mm, all right, why not?
Iris: I think it was some very famous clothes horse said the best thing was getting dressed.
She didn't give a damn about going to the party or being at the party.
It was getting dressed for the party.
And there's more truth and poetry in that.
Woman: We are so pleased to have Iris Apfel.
This event will show you how she works with people, their bodies, and the way they should look or the way they can look.
What brings you to our fair shore?
I want something that represents my personality but is also classic, so I need help.
There's somebody I've had my eye on.
You, you, with the earrings. Come here, girl.
Oh. Oh, wowie-wow.
This was a Gaultier.
I thought it needed a belt. So we added the belt.
The shawl is also an add-on, but look at those shoes.
She looks very Vogue-y.
This was something that when Iris picked it out, I thought she was a little...
I thought her 90 years was showing.
I never would have worn this myself.
I would have looked at it on the rack and kept going.
But I love it.
This is my wild child.
She told me that sometimes she has to go to occasions where she has to be a bit more sophisticated.
And I thought, now that's a challenge, to make her look sophisticated and kooky at the same time is not the easiest thing in the world.
But we'll give it a try, so see if you think we've succeeded.
Francis, my gosh.
Dress looks pure couture.
The necklace I think is Missoni.
The necklace is spoken for. I'm buying it.
Iris: Okay, baby. I think you're in.
I was very much influenced by my mother, and my mother worshipped at the altar of the accessory.
My mother could do tricks with a scarf that I've never seen anybody else do.
It was during Depression days that I grew up, and my mother always said, "Buy a good, simple little black dress and you'll always have something to wear because you can dress it up or you can dress it down."
Thank you for sharing your vision.
And on behalf of Loehmann's 90th year, we would like to celebrate your 90th birthday, too.
Oh, what a pretty cake! What a pretty cake!
Oh, my God.
Looked like the eternal flame.
I had discovered Loehmann's, it was in Brooklyn.
That was when Mrs. Loehmann, the original... who was absolutely a trip.
She looked like something out of Toulouse-Lautrec.
And she would sit on a high stool like she was observing a tennis match.
And she would look at what everybody in the shop was doing.
And she used to fixate on me, and she really made me very uncomfortable.
And one day, she called me over, and she said, "Young lady, I've been watching you."
She said, "Don't anybody...
You're not pretty, and you'll never be pretty.
But it doesn't matter. You have something much better.
You have style."
Man: Iris is an artist.
What she uses all of her clothing and her accessories to do is compose a new vision.
That for me is creativity.
Other people would say, "Well, you know, it's just getting dressed, and we all get dressed."
Well, we all take snapshots on our phone, and that doesn't make it art.
Man: The fact that she combines everything, what is nice, what is ugly, what's cheap, what is chic.
So all these things, and she just mixes that, and she makes her own style of that, and that's really... that's inspiration for me.
Her things are so special.
Everything Mrs. Apfel have is gorgeous.
Man: When I first met her, there were all kinds of people, all ages, all walks of life, all surrounding her.
She was so engaging to everybody, you know?
And I could feel the pulse of her life, of her excitement about living.
Martha: This is Iris Apfel, and she is a legendary collector, um, of fashion.
Exhibits of her fashions in museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute drew record crowds.
And that was in 2005. I went.
It was extraordinary.
And tell us what you're wearing right now, Iris.
Oh, this actually I bought many years ago for my darling husband, and...
You bought this shirt?
Yeah, this was done by Versace.
He painted it himself. It's leather.
So I grabbed it, and I took it home.
And I gave it to him, and he turned up his nose.
And he said, "Oh..."
Iris' husband is sitting right here.
Carl is sitting right here in the front row.
And Carl has pretty fancy pants on.
Look at those pants.
They're from Etro. I bought him those.
Oh, are those new? Yeah.
Oh, okay. Very nice. You're right with it, Carl.
Thank you, dear.
This goes back to when the dinosaurs were roaming the Earth, 1948.
Articles from The Times and other newspapers.
This is what I looked like then.
I never wanted a wedding.
I wanted to elope.
I said I'd rather have the money.
But the parents and the grandparents wanted the wedding.
Our first date was Columbus Day.
Thanksgiving, Carl proposed.
Christmas, I got blinged.
Washington's birthday, we were married.
Washington's birthday, February 22nd.
There was no Presidents' Day then.
It was a fairly small wedding, I think 125 people.
But very posh.
The dress was pink lace, and I'm really very practical, So I wanted a dress that I could wear after the wedding and not just put in a box.
I still have these shoes sixty... six and a half years later They were pale pink satin.
They're back in style.
If you hang around long enough, everything comes back.
This is ma and pa and moi.
There's Carl. So gallant.
Carl: There was something about her that just got into me.
It's always there.
Aw, my little pussycat.
And I figured he was cool and he was cuddly, and he cooked Chinese, so I couldn't do any better.
But it's been one trip, beautiful trip.
I trained him well.
And if she wants a child, I'm it.
He's a handful.
The first piece I ever bought was in Greenwich Village.
I was about maybe 11, 12 years old.
There was a little shop in a basement of one of those old-fashioned kind of tenement houses that had the fire escapes outside, and I'll never forget that place because I thought it was Aladdin's cave.
There was this little man.
His name was Mr. Darris, and he was threadbare but elegant.
He always wore spats and a monocle... and I always tell everybody he treated me like I was a mini duchess.
I'd come in, and he never seen a kid be so interested in all this junk before.
I fixed on a brooch.
I just thought it was the cat's pajamas, and I really lusted after that piece.
So I finally saved up 65 cents, and we haggled a little bit over the piece.
I thought it'd be gone, but fortunately for me, it was still there.
Anyway, I bought it for the magnificent sum of 65 cents.
He gave it to me. I was so thrilled, my God.
Yeah, fine. Is it hard for you to do this?
Is it difficult?
No, not at all.
Honey, this is Harlem, nothing's difficult.
Now this is... there's a lot of African stuff, but the jewelry's great, Iris. Oh, let me see.
Shall we go in? Okay. Oh, absolutely.
See, something white with...
Yeah, those are all, like, jackets.
We'll go around there.
Iris: I've always said that the population of Harlem has much more style than they do... downtown, they think they're stylish, but they all were black, you know?
It's not really style. It's a uniform.
I used to come up here on Sundays when I was a kid and watch all the ladies going to church.
Yeah, Sunday best.
And they had real style, I thought.
Duro: And that sort of style never goes out.
No, no, but it doesn't exist much anymore.
But, you know, things change.
I hope. I hope. I try.
That's fun. The scarf?
That's like a scarf or a belt.
Oh, yeah. How much?
Man: That's 45.
That's a lot.
Careful, Iris, you're on "Candid Camera."
I'm sorry, I'm cheap.
No! You're not cheap.
Duro: It's funny because you find people think you just acquire things, but actually, that's not you.
No, it's hard work.
You really have to put a lot of effort into it.
I know people who have wonderful collections, but it's different.
They go out to buy, they go to...
Duro: Auctions and things like that, yeah.
Iris: But everything I have, I go out and find, which is not easy. No.
Iris: I like that. Duro: That's beautiful.
I like it. The color, everything.
So, monsieur, how much are these ones?
Okay, the bracelet ten.
What I'll do, I'm going to make you a deal.
We know you, okay?
Uh, take... I'll give you $7 each for you.
And what can you do on the coat?
The coat, we sell... normal, we sell 125.
But I'll let you have it 100.
Okay. I know you.
I know you, queen. We know you.
Iris: You can do better than 100.
And the bag? This 85.
Oh, you can do better. No, this 85.
You see, the tanner took one day to make it.
He's slow. Yeah. Yeah.
How did you get that? I can't get those prices.
Oh, I'm very good.
Duro: Doing something creative, taking your mind off things, but that's how you shop, and that's how you dress, and that's how you think, in that way.
Iris: Oh, yes, I mean, it's fun.
Sometimes I really don't feel well.
And I get in there, it's like I'm 19 1/2.
I'm jumping around and everything, and I'm so up.
When I crawl back to the car...
I got my booty... How often do you need the fix?
Oh, I'd like to have it more often than I get it.
Like how often, Iris, once a week?
Oh, I would love it once a week. Yeah.
Woman: I think what fascinates me about Iris is that she's the perfect example of the intersection of fashion and interior design and art.
She's been exposed to so many different areas of creative worlds from being an interior designer to being involved with Old World Weavers, and Old World Weavers, for those who aren't aware, is this iconic company that Stark then bought, but their fabrics are in some of the finest houses that we photograph, you know, still on a daily basis.
When we started Old World Weavers, it came... it was a crazy way, too.
We never intended to go into the fabric bus...
Nothing I ever did I intended to do.
Everything just kind of happened.
Carl: She had a very big decorating business.
I would go along with her.
I'd take my little toolbox, hang the pictures.
And I got a kick out of watching her make something beautiful.
Iris: One day, I was looking for a fabric that didn't exist.
I was doing a house, and I wanted something special, and then I remembered that I had gone to school with a young lady whose father was supposed to be a great weaver.
And I happened to run into her, as luck would have it, and she said, "Why don't you go over to the mill and see Papa?"
So I did, and I brought the design, and he made it, and it was a big success.
Everybody liked it.
And he said did I have any more designs?
So after a while, he asked if Carl and I would be interested in going into business with him.
And I thought it would be fun.
We did exact reproductions of 17th, 18th, 19th, and early 20th Century fabrics, and I would do my best to get them to be as close as possible to the original.
That's why we traveled so much because there is no one or two mills that can do everything.
It's all very specialized.
They had done a lot of work for different administrations in the White House and restored fabrics and created special fabrics.
Well, uh... Barry... the White House.
Was that from Barry...
We started when Truman was here.
I know, but how did they come...
I don't know, they heard about us.
You see, the White House has a fine arts commission.
Man: Well, now, can you make these changes according to your own personal tastes and desires?
Well, no, I have a committee...
Oh, we had a problem with Jackie.
We're not supposed to talk too much about the White House.
They get very upset.
My God, we did so many restorations in so many different museums.
Carl: I remember I did Stephen Foster's My Old Kentucky Home. Iris: Did the Senate.
Carl: I did the Statehouse in Mississippi.
Iris: Every great house in America had our stuff.
I had a very interesting clientele.
They didn't want to have things that everybody else had, so that started me traveling, and I went twice a year to Europe.
I was a busy bee.
And I would wear three cameras.
I had a Nikon with a telly, a Nikon normal, and a Nikon wide-angle.
And the situations would come up so fast, I didn't have time to change lenses.
So it was easier to have the three cameras.
Men:? Hey, hey, la la la la la?
When you'd get to know some of the dealers like we did, they'd open up places for us like you never saw before.
They open at a certain hour, and they close at a certain hour.
Who do you think was the last one? Iris.
I don't like to haggle too much, and I don't like to haggle like some people do.
You have to know where to haggle and when to haggle.
There are certain places in the world where you do a disservice to the merchant if you don't haggle.
If he says, "This piece is $50," and you give him $50, you have totally ruined his day because he thinks, oh, my God, if you're stupid enough to give me $50, right off the bat, I should have asked you 150.
So it's part of the game.
I didn't want to sell it, and finally, Starks made an offer we couldn't refuse, and I got more into all this nutty stuff I'm doing now... which is more fun.
Oh, I love this.
Here, let me show you.
It's great. I have some weird jewelry.
Oh, they're wonderful. Oh.
Oh, my goodness.
Okay, you have a few sips of tea, and then I'm going to start my grooming.
Oh, thank you. I need a Scotch after this.
Is it tight or is it okay?
No, no, no, it's just I look like a ghoul.
You look amazing. Oh, come on.
Beautiful, like that. Let me see you smile.
There you go, okay, one, two, three, don't move.
Now put your... yeah, now that one.
Yeah, beautiful, I love that. That's perfect.
There you go, yeah. I love you right there.
Stay like that. Now smile, again, a big smile.
One, two, three, great.
This is fun. What?
This is fun. It is.
Okay, one, two... eyes just a little bit...
Keep your face there and your eyes... there you go.
One, two, three. Awesome.
All right, thank you very much, Iris.
Woman: Have you ever thought about having plastic surgery?
Iris: Oh, God, no. Oh, I'm very opposed to that.
I think unless God gave you a nose like Pinocchio or you were in a fire or some terrible thing, why mess?
Because you don't know how it's going to come out.
You could come out worse than when you started.
I mean, some very important people I know go...
They come out looking like Picasso.
It's not... Why?
Why do you want to do it for, a few wrinkles?
I see no reason for it.
I mean, maybe people in show business who are obliged to look young or something, but everybody knows how old you are, and then you have the scrawny old hands that don't go with your face, and some people start to fall down.
I first met Iris when a friend who is an appraiser said, "I've just met a woman with the most remarkable collection of couture costume jewelry.
She probably has one of the two best collections in the United States."
That was the beginning.
I was working at F.I.T. at the time, and she was one of the great lenders to our exhibitions at F.I.T., the Fashion Institute of Technology.
So we became friends, and I saw her socially, and even after we started at the Met, there was occasion to borrow from her.
We had a show that was planned, and at the very last minute, there was something that happened that it couldn't be...
We couldn't proceed, and it was very late.
It was in the early summer.
And I thought, well, we have to do a show for the fall, and what could it be?
I thought, you know, Iris has this renowned collection of costume jewelry that'll be relatively easy to set up.
Why don't we do that?
As I was talking to her, it occurred to me we could do something really fun.
Because instead of having the jewelry on these abstract mounts, what we could do is style them in a way that they were Iris.
He said, "I think it would make a much more interesting show" if you could show the public what you can do with accessories.
How they can transform an outfit.
Could you possibly spare about five outfits?
You would have 100% authority to accessorize them
"any way you saw fit."
So I said, "Oh, that sounds like fun.
What would you like?"
"Well, we don't know. What have you got?"
And that opened the Pandora's box.
Harold: When you think about Iris' collection, several rooms in her Park Avenue apartment are dedicated to her clothes.
Her closets are double height.
That means two levels of clothing jammed together where you'll just see a sliver of a Saint Laurent skirt or an Ungaro blouse.
This is a shaman...
It's a Chinese shaman's... jacket.
But I'll wear it as a cocktail outfit with skinny pants.
She had her mother's apartment, which was filled with clothing.
She had her apartment in Palm Beach, which was filled with clothing.
And so even for the person who's put it together, you know, what point do you select this over that?
We knew that this was going to be a show that looked like nothing else we had ever done.
They were very much afraid because they had never done a one-woman show ever.
It was like a written law.
If you're one-woman show and you were not in the trade, you ought to be dead.
Harold: Because the previous exhibition had fallen apart and there was no sponsorship, we had to make it very close to the vest.
There was not a lot of publicity.
It would have to be word-of-mouth.
We didn't expect that it would be quite the phenomenon that it was.
I don't know if there's been any other show that has relied so much on word-of-mouth.
That's what surprised us, people coming in and leaving and saying, "You have to see this show."
The response was remarkable.
I went back numerous times. It was absolutely fascinating.
And then I'd overhear people... the comments people made.
On a rare occasion, I would comment on their comments.
He'd tell me that people would say, you know, "Well, who is she?"
And they'd say, "Oh, I don't know, she's dead."
So I told them, "The next time you hear that, tap the lady on the shoulder and say, 'My auntie is very much alive.
She's just walking around to save funeral expenses.'"
Woman:? New York, New York, New York?
Iris: These are mostly from Tibet.
They weigh a ton.
I wear them only when I'm assured that I can go home in about half an hour.
Well, that's supposed to be me atop this ostrich.
The jacket is made of barnyard feathers.
I think it was in American Vogue that I saw the first thing about Iris.
I think that for her, also, the exhibition at the Met was a very big change in her life.
And I'm an octogenarian starlet. I think that's fun.
Iris: I began to be, in a small way, a public person.
I mean, I was always known in the trade, in my interior design, and called upon for quotes and written about, but, I mean, not to the degree...
I mean, this was an avalanche.
I think part of the reason they responded to it was this feeling that it was play.
Here was somebody who was just having a great deal of fun.
Iris: Life is gray and dull, and you might as well have a little fun when you dress and amuse people.
Do you like that? Did you hear what she said?
Iris: The show changed a lot as it moved.
The next show in Palm Beach just flowed.
There were seven contiguous galleries, and you walked from one to another.
Then I went to the museum on Long Island, in Nassau County, and then Peabody Essex was really the climax.
It was really beautiful because they have huge, soaring ceilings, and they did a really great job.
I'm sure that the reason my shows were so successful was that they provided fantasy or it provided some glamour.
There are a lot of explanations.
Maybe people caught up with me. Maybe I was too far ahead.
Maybe people are looking for something that's missing in their lives, because as much as people say they don't want to be bothered, I think they really yearn for it.
Your audience is waiting over here.
I've never seen someone look better in a pair of jeans than Iris.
I know, I've been watching her for years.
It's nice to meet you.
Jenna wants to meet you.
Jenna's the president of J. Crew.
You are the most chic, most beautiful, most incredible woman I have ever seen.
I've been such a fan of yours for so many years.
It's such an honor to meet you.
Well, thank you, I'm so impressed to meet you.
Oh, please, please. Oh, I mean...
Not even close. It's an honor.
Iris: And the accessory designer of the year is Alexander Wang.
Woman: And right here, guys.
Man: Hold up the award and straight ahead this way.
It's a pleasure to meet you.
Great meeting you, too.
I'm a big fan. Oh, thank you.
You look so good tonight.
Thank you, my goodness.
From a handsome young fella, wow.
Man: I think people can't even imagine having that kind of a life that she has, and she loves every fucking minute, and even if she's complaining about it, which he does every single time I talk to her...
She'll say, "Oh, my God, I'm so exhausted,"
Like, the conversations are the same.
It's like I'll call her, she'll be like, "I'm so tired.
I was just on TV, and then I'm doing another interview."
And I'm like, "Iris, you love it."
She's like, "I don't love it."
I'm like, "No, Iris, you love it."
She's like, "I kind of like it."
Oh, my goodness. Oh, that's great.
Oh, I love it.
Oh, how good he is.
He takes good care of me.
Then take a picture of Desi taking a picture.
Bruce: Iris became one of my favorite models, and so I said, "Well, Iris, I've got to photograph you at your house."
So I went over to their place in Palm Beach, and their apartment was like this total trip.
It was like a fantasy, all these little games and things and animals that barked...
Dogs that bark, you know?
That's Gussie. Gussie is a bar.
Her wing goes up, and her belly is full of booze.
And Kermit decided he'd like to live here, and he's become a terrible lush.
See how tipsy he is?
And these are some of my Kachinas.
I've had a number of museum shows with them.
These are some of the little teddy bears.
I like him. He's from the Ritz in Paris.
Stay there, boy.
We used to go to Santa Fe every summer.
And many, many years ago, I started to buy this kid when he was maybe 14 years old and starting.
He's a Navajo, and his sister used to help him dress the figures.
I used to buy one or two every year, and when I took them all out, I never realized this kid is hung up on transportation Because every one of these is going some place.
They keep the Christmas ornaments, the Christmas lights on for almost six to eight months, so it's kind of always Christmas there.
Recorded voice: All aboard!
Did you ever see Christmas trains?
Did you ever see Christmas trains before?
It's the most perfect house for two children.
Okay, we'll speak in the morning.
They throw out more food than I ever saw.
There's no more? There's still another one.
It's not my yogurt.
Huh? It's not mine.
Then get two. Two is more than enough.
Okay, have a good day. Yeah.
Iris: You like this Carl?
It's De La Renta. Huh?
De La Renta Do you like it?
Oscar should like it.
Do you like it?
What's not to like?
Money, money, money.
Either that or Uncle Sam.
Rather give it to her.
Isn't this fabulous? What?
Look at this. That's wild.
I love this the best.
That's a fun thing.
I'll take this one. Should I get the other one?
Huh? You like the other one?
I like the poor bastard there on the back.
You never know what's going to happen with this child.
It's very good.
It's not a dull marriage, I can tell you that.
Come, let's walk.
Is this yours?
I wonder if they have any long-sleeve.
That's fun. That's fun.
It's $30, though, and it doesn't look good on you.
Doesn't look good? Okay?
He likes that.
Like it? Iris: I love it.
Make a deal.
Make a deal.
Make a deal, McNeal.
Iris: Is it heavy?
Not bad, no. It's all right, sweetheart.
I'm getting used to it.
You have to pay for being stylish.
It doesn't affect my brainpower.
Iris: Oh, could you order me... because I have... the Wall Street Journal?
Yeah, because there's a piece about me.
Day in the life of. Okay? Thank you.
And that's for Saturday only? Right, thank you, thank you.
It's Iris Apfel.
I'm in Palm Beach.
Yes, yes, we had our interview this morning.
Monday, we'll be all day at the doctor's.
We have to go for a whole bunch of eye tests.
Woman: How many phone calls do you think Iris gets in a day?
Oh, Lord, sometimes about 50 or more.
I mean, back to back, the cell ringing and the house phone ringing.
You can't keep up with this phone, you can't.
Carl: You got something.
Where's my phone?
Iris: Take that hat off him. Inez: No!
Iris: It's a terrible hat.
What's the matter with the hat?
Iris, the hat's holding my head on straight.
Oh, excuse me.
Iris: Your voice is worse than mine.
Iris: Nezzie has a beautiful voice.
This is Nezzie. She's the chief of this house.
Look at her slippers she makes.
Very talented wife. I think I'll keep her.
Iris: Trade-in value's not so high.
Trade-in value's not so high.
Woman: Have all your things set up.
These are how many minutes we're spending on each item.
Mm-hmm, may I sit down? Yes, you may.
Iris: Those are drop-dead. Woman: Yeah.
That looks good. I like these together.
Everybody like these together?
See, if you do something like this, it starts to get a look.
Looks good. We'll take that picture.
And then just one last thing, and then we're done.
Iris: I think that's such a great scarf.
Woman: Mm-hmm, it's fun.
All your stuff is fun. Iris: Well, thank you.
Woman: Everybody loves it. Yeah.
Man: Stand by.
Woman: Well, good morning.
She is here, the rare bird herself of fashion, the icon herself, Iris Apfel.
Over 75 years of all of that influence in the fashion world, interior designing, accessories exclusive to you on HSN, and it is such a treat.
That's so nice to hear.
Makes a girl feel like there's still a chance.
So tell us about these again. You don't do anything petite.
Iris: No, no, no, no, no.
I like big and bold and lots of pizzazz.
And it's about color coming into the season, isn't it?
Iris: Absolutely, color is so important.
I mean, color can raise the dead.
For many of us, you give us the freedom, you know, step out of the box a little bit.
Iris: That's what life is all about.
If you're just going to sit there and do the same damn thing all the time, you might as well jump into the box yourself.
Exac... you heard it here.
It's exactly right.
Did we sell well?
You know, I don't know.
I was watching. I wasn't looking at the numbers.
How did it go? You looked fantastic.
My computer kept freezing up on me, but...
But you looked fantastic. Well, thank you.
Man: Thank you, great job. Thank you.
And it sold out. You can't wear it any more.
This one did? I'm wearing it.
Hi, I'm going in style.
Iris: In the '40s, I was probably the first woman to wear jeans.
All of a sudden, I had a vision.
I said I wouldn't it be wonderful if I had a big gingham... this sounds crazy.
A big gingham... a big gingham turban and very large hoop earrings that I could wear with a nice crisp shirt and blue jeans?
They said to me, "Don't you know young ladies do not wear jeans?
What's wrong with you?"
And I said, "But I want a pair. I need a pair."
"Well, we're very sorry. We can't help you."
Well, they were just so mean. They threw me out.
But when I want something, I'm like a dog with a bone, so I went back.
I went back a couple of times, and finally, I guess in an effort just to get me off his back, the owner called me on the telephone...
Oh, it was maybe about five or six weeks of really hard work on my part...
And he said he had mail-order... had mail ordered me a pair of boy's jeans, and they fit.
So I put the outfit together, and it was really smashing.
It really was.
Do you think, Iris, like, for you, did...
Because for me, I became confident once I, like, pretended I was and forced myself into wearing things I was shy about.
Did it come after for you or...
I can't remember that far back.
Hey, sweetheart, you look beautiful as ever.
Thank you. I'm vertical, so I'm so happy.
You know why I think you did this film?
Iris: Why? Because he's very handsome, and I think you really had a crush on him.
Everybody does. I know.
Remember the evening we went to that party, and there were a number of elderly ladies, and they were like... all over Albert.
Yeah. My God. He was like a magnet.
Isn't it amazing now how many designers don't sew?
They don't sew. They don't drape.
They're media freaks. Right, exactly, yeah.
See, these new kids go to the vintage shows, and they buy a few pieces, and they change a button or two, and they knock it off, and it's crazy.
They just have no sense of history and no curiosity about anything.
When you were, like, growing up, didn't you have a sense of history just from reading and looking at things... Oh, of course.
Listening to music and everything?
I had a great sense of history, and I realized that everything is interrelated and that politics and science and economics and fashion and all that are one and part of the same, and I applied it... I know if you look at a dress, it's affected by all those things.
I mean, you can almost tell what was going on at that period.
You know, I've never heard you say, "I don't like the way that person dresses."
I can't sit in judgment. Right, exactly.
It's not my business. Right.
If they're happy that way... you know, It's better to be happy than well-dressed.
Exactly. That's so great.
Hi. Woman: There she is.
Hi. Oh, how cute.
Welcome, you're so...
Okay, Iris, after this is all laid out, I am officially jealous.
I have a lot of catching up to do.
No, I mean... This is a drop in the bucket.
Okay, so Iris and everybody, can I tell you what we set up?
All the accessories are here.
All the shoes are down on the floor.
I'm not sure if we're going to get that far, but they're there.
We dressed several mannequins here with almost everything...
Right behind you. ...almost everything.
This one I... You tell us what to do.
And this I thought with the brown pants.
The brown pants? Yeah, that's so you don't...
You don't see anything else. Okay.
And then I have some jewelry. And I have those Missoni shoes.
And then I put this...
That on top of that? Yeah.
Oh, that's the secret for how you get some of your depth.
Linda: Beautiful, so sculptural.
It spoils the... The line of the jacket?
Is she dragging it?
Yeah, that's what I mean, something like that.
Dragging it along kind of?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I love that.
Because we can do that. That's what I meant.
We like that kind of rhythm anyway to break it up.
So it'll go down here, okay.
We think on the same beam. See?
We could do, you know, glitz and bling if you wanted to, or we could just do this kind of...
Lots and lots of dots, right.
Iris, that looks pretty great.
You know you could do... maybe want to add this to it?
Oh, I see how this works.
Some people might have assumed this was just one piece.
People usually do. But no, you're making it.
What you have to do... see, I used to do things with antique bits and pieces, and what I was so proud of was they looked like they were born that way.
They didn't look like they were put together.
I hate when it looks put together.
Oh, you want this on the top here.
Or you think maybe too much for the window?
No, no, no, no, no.
You know the secret behind doing windows?
What, too much? No, it's never too much.
You always do the most outlandish.
Oh, well, that's for me. You want to give me a job?
Linda: Iris, let me ask you a question.
Do you have glasses to spare?
Iris: Well, for the window, I guess I have a few pairs.
I don't know how many I have.
We were thinking we might do this sort of thing.
See it, Linda, the mask there? Might do something like that.
This is a classic... I kind of like the glasses.
David: The mannequins could be holding something.
I think it's a little chicer just with glasses instead of with... you know what I mean?
We know it's Iris just by the glasses.
Let's just... but these would break, I guess.
Here, I'm not going to let go of them.
Let's see the... Let's try this girl here.
Gee, I wonder who this is.
Woman: The point of this is just a little thing.
I wanted to show sort of all your different jobs, that you have more jobs than anyone.
Oh, I love that. I love that.
Woman: Isn't there sound?
How do we tell the man that there's no sound?
Oh, okay, thanks.
Can you start it over?
Man: We have something really big for you to surprise you with. Iris: For me?
Man: Yes, absolutely. Iris: Oh, wow.
There's some noise coming from the bag.
Oh, my God! Oh!
So you can use this to shop with you when you go to Whole Foods to buy your forbidden rice.
Oh, that's fabulous!
That's going to be in the stores. No.
Yeah. Big like this?
Big like this. Oh, Albert, look at that.
Iris: Oh, my God. Woman: We're excited about it.
Oh, I can't believe it. Oh, my God.
I love you, Rory.
You've been so kind and gracious to me.
If somebody could just open the door?
Woman: I'll get it.
James: I heard your other collection is sold out.
Yeah, the Home Shopping. Yeah, it was so exciting.
Were you on it yourself selling it?
I was supposed to, and I was in the hospital.
I just had surgery.
So they asked me if I would talk, and I said yes, and I summoned all my energy, and I did two shows.
I guess it was about half an hour each.
And I was very... You know, it was very exciting, and the next... for two days, I couldn't get out of bed I was so drained.
Carl doesn't know I had hip surgery.
He doesn't know my hip was broken.
James: Really? How did you do that?
Well, I didn't do it. Nezzie did.
Because Carl is very devoted to me, particularly now that he isn't feeling well, and she said if she was going to stay with him, she couldn't tell him because he'd go bananas.
And he really was so upset that I wasn't at home.
He knows I fell... Where did he think you were?
No, he knows I fell.
He was sleeping when it happened.
But when he got up... what was I going to do?
I was trying to wait till the next day, but the head of NYU, the head honcho is a good friend, and he said, "You're crazy.
You have to come immediately, and you have to come in an ambulance."
So I had to call the ambulance, and I thought, "Oh, my God."
But God was good, and they sent me the two most delicious guys.
They were big hunks, but they were so sweet and so kind.
And I explained the situation, and they were, you know, kidding around with Carl and whatnot, and they got me out.
He thinks I fell...
He knows I fell and hurt my leg badly, but he doesn't know I broke my hip.
James: He doesn't know what happened.
Iris: So we're always together.
We work together and everything else, so he's used to having me around.
He's older than I am, well, so it was very sweet.
Rory: You're very sweet together.
Have you met... This is the Maysles crew.
No! I'm Katie.
Katie, I'm Nancy. Nice to meet you.
Sean. Nancy: Sean, nice to meet you.
And this is Albert Maysles himself.
Hello, Albert, so nice to meet you.
You want a nibble? Help yourself.
Yes, yes. Albert, you want...
I'm okay. I had some breakfast.
Sweetie, you want some? Katie: We're okay, thank you.
Nancy: Greetings, and welcome to the launch of the UT in NYC program.
It is my pleasure to introduce Mrs. Iris Apfel, our tour guide and visiting professor for the week in New York City.
I have brought you 14 eager students from the University of Texas.
Good, well, I don't want to waste any time because we have a lot of things to do.
And the reason I chose this was because I've had occasion in the last couple of years to work with students, which I never did before, and I find that, unhappily, they may be very well-trained in their craft, but they haven't got a clue as to the outside world.
So the sage has spoken.
Iris: Everybody faints when they hear the itinerary because it's really... I must say, they're all offbeat fields like licensing and styling and things that kids don't think about as fashion.
They just think it's not glamorous, but it's important.
I mean, all the great handcrafted trades are going down the tubes.
Some have already gone.
And then there's nobody left to teach them, and you'll have all kinds of machine-made junk.
Listen up, everybody, this wonderful, wonderful man is going to talk with you.
He is in my opinion, and I think not only mine but everybody else's, the king of the runway, and he comes from a long tradition of embroiderers and beaders.
So listen, he's going to tell you wonderful things.
You have to keep your eyes open for anything and everything.
Like me flying, going to Miami, I look down from the plane, and I see fields of... you know, fields.
It looked like a... like an amazing pattern.
I drew it up, and it's in one of my dresses.
Now it's up to you as a designer.
What are you inspired by?
And I think whatever feeds you...
You could be curious about math, you could be curious about science, you could be curious about fashion, you could be curious about anything, but ultimately, what drives you and makes you better is learning something you don't already know.
I could never be a good friend of anybody who wasn't curious or didn't have a sense of humor.
I think those are the two great gifts that I got in my cradle.
I really believe that.
People always love enthusiasm, and I think that, in the end, New York is about work and getting a job done.
So it's great if you're a cute girl in a cute dress and want to be on the red carpet, but really, if you mean business, New York is the place for you.
If you mean business, people will take you seriously, I think.
Iris: It's very important to me that my program continue.
It's going gangbusters.
The kids are now fighting to get in, and the school shows no...
I mean, unless it falls by the wayside and they can't get anymore funding...
I mean, I can't do this forever, but I'm sure they'll be able to get somebody else.
Woman: Awesome, thank you.
Woman: You never had children.
No, we never wanted to.
I mean, not that I... but you can't...
I learned a long time ago you can't have everything, and I wanted a career, and I wanted to travel, and my mother... I know how much I resented it.
She had stopped for a while, and then when I was like ten or 11, she went back, and I was very upset. Very upset.
I felt I was... I mean, it was stupid, but I felt I was being abandoned, so I said I didn't want to have my child raised by a nanny.
And you can't do everything. It's impossible.
Something has to give.
And sometimes it's you.
Iris: Well, I haven't had a chance to go through anything.
Iris: Logistics, logistics.
Okay. There we go.
Galliano's pieces are fantastic.
This is spectacular.
The Peabody Essex Museum hosted Iris' exhibition
"The Rare Bird of Fashion" in, um...
Paula: And then when the exhibition came to the museum, we invited Iris and Carl, of course, to be part of the installation.
And so I learned that Peabody had a fashion collection, but it more or less stopped at the time that mine begins.
So we decided that it would be a nice fit, and that I would, little by little, give all the stuff to the museum.
So we started last year.
They got 80-odd pieces last year.
Probably get another batch, and will keep going.
Paula: Oh, those are trousers. Oh, look at that.
Oh, with a matching coat.
What an interesting color combination.
This is a very personal collection.
This is mine, and I didn't buy it to impress anybody.
I bought it because I liked it.
And I wore almost everything.
Some things I wore to pieces.
This is the green... This is the green one.
I was collecting church vestments at one point.
So with this one, I found a pair.
I took the pair, and I cut it apart, and I made a pair of trousers.
Woman: This has a number. Iris: What is that?
It's a black, white, or blue...
With fringe. Oh, no, it's dark blue.
Oh, that's a gorgeous fabric. That is a fabric to die for.
Yeah, as if there aren't other to-die-for fabrics here.
But this one is very...
But it's interesting to see which ones you get really excited about.
Look at this.
Oh, wow. It's woven.
It's a velvet and then the lace, wow.
It's quite the combination.
But look at how it's threaded up through with the fringe.
Paula: Where did you find this? Here or...
No, you' don't find anything like this here.
Iris: Somebody once told me, and it's so true, you really don't own anything while you're here.
You just rent, so sometimes, it might be nicer to see where it's going than to not know who gets it, so I'm happy to do it.
Woman: How do you choose what to give away?
It's not easy.
Woman: Does it keep you up?
Oh, God, no.
No, I have more important things to keep me up at night.
Woman: Well, now I have to ask what...
What keeps you up at night?
Oh, I mean...
Matters of health and things like that.
Things that are really important.
I mean, as you get older, you realize that all these other things are just...
Man: Iris, just looking over here?
How many people have been in here before, Iris?
Not too many. I don't let anybody in here.
Trying to get it a little organized.
Do you want me to hang this somewhere?
Iris: Just stick it here. Okay.
I have two more hangars of items.
It's a system until a lot of people stick their noses in, and then it gets all fucked up.
Put it here.
Okay, and then this J. Crew dress.
Put it here. Okay.
Carl: Look at that coat.
Hi. How are you?
Carl: My beautiful child.
Iris: How are you, pussycat?
I made it.
Iris: Are you all right? Are you okay?
I don't know.
Somebody's stealing my breath.
Iris: Be quiet. Relax, relax, relax.
Carl: What's that cousin's name with two kids up there?
Carl, just relax. Don't talk.
Catch your breath.
Billy: My aunt rarely relaxes, and I think that's kind of a fault on occasion.
I think sometimes she should slow down, and I ask her, or I kind of even insist, that she do a little bit, rests a little bit more, but it's not her personality.
She's even said that when she's not busy, she can get depressed.
She's not at all a depressive person, but I can understand that her personality is to keep moving, keep busy, keep occupied, keep creative, keep productive, and that's her life, and it has always been her life.
Iris: Oh, I like being active.
I like being in the world and of the world, and everybody has to do it in his or her own way.
I think I told you this about my mother's friend.
When you would say, "How are you feeling today?"
She'd say, "Well, to tell you the truth," when I get up in the morning, everything I have two of, one hurts," and that's the way it is.
When you're older, a lot of people just give into that, but unless it's something really serious, but if it isn't, you just have to push yourself, and then you go out, and you start to do things, you forget about yourself.
Otherwise, you can just sit there and brood all day long.
I mean, you cannot do what you did.
People say what an energy and everything I have, but it's nothing like what I used to have.
Now I get tired.
I'm ready for the voyage.
Hi, sweetie. Hi, darling.
How are you?
I don't know. Vertical. I'm vertical.
Where you going? Back to work.
Back to work?
Make sure they take it easy with you, okay?
Yeah, they're good people. Okay.
Okay, we're off and running.
Iris: Right here. Driver: Right here?
Yeah, that's the elevator.
Not a friendly policeman.
Iris: I had a very interesting clientele.
They didn't want to be dragged from showroom to showroom and have things that everybody else had, so that started me traveling, and I went twice a year to Europe and each time took at least a 40-foot container besides going to all the auctions and estate sales and everything else.
That has to go. That one goes.
And, uh, this piece goes. That one's going.
Then, uh... And two more pieces over there.
Oh, a lot of pieces.
I believe this one goes.
That big long bench goes, yes, yeah.
Iris: It wasn't easy to part with these things because they have so many memories connected with them.
I'm sorry to see them gone, but c'est la vie.
They don't do me any good here.
They don't do anybody any good, and they're so beautiful, they might as well brighten somebody's life, and frankly, I can use a few more shekels.
This is 750. What were you thinking?
What? What were you thinking?
I don't know. I have to check. I really do.
Oh, my God.
Oh, my God, it's one of those panels.
Wait, there was something I had to show you.
Hmm. That's really different.
Iris: I thought it could be a wall hanging, or it could even... maybe a bed thing because that could tuck under. Hang over the bottom?
Mm-hmm. Yeah, definitely.
Iris: When I didn't know any better and we first went to Paris years and years ago right after the war, the dealers would say, "You must come early in the morning to my..." they called them "my box," and you'd have to get there, like, 4:00 in the morning with a big searchlight, and it was always damp and cold and miserable.
And we did that for a while, and then my husband said to me, "You know, this is really stupid."
You don't buy what other people buy, and almost everything you buy, you always say, "It has to have my name on it."
If it's got your name on it, baby, "it's going to be here at 11:00 in the morning."
So that's what we continued to do, and it worked.
I still occasionally miss that terribly.
It's definitely the end of an era.
It's the end of another life. It took me a long time.
You have to get yourself psyched.
Especially a collection like that, you know, every piece has a memory because most of them were bought on trips or different occasions.
My accountant said to me, "Just think of all the money you would've saved if you had done this years ago."
Well, but I wasn't ready.
I feel that for everything there is a season.
And I suppose that when I put the last key in the door, I'll go home and get hysterical.
Right now, I'm managing.
Albert: You got a birthday coming up, huh?
Yeah, August 4th. That scares the hell out of me.
What am I going to do for an encore?
Albert: Well, if you made it this far, you can go further, that's my idea.
You're looking great. I love your pants.
I can't tell you how happy...
Dr. Pritchard took care of us for over 40 years.
Jenna, oh, I'm so happy to see you.
Hi, how are you?
Happy birthday, kid.
Carl doesn't like to talk too much, so he wants me to say a word or two or four.
He wants to thank everybody for coming.
It's so nice.
We're so pleased that you're all in our life.
You've been so generous in sharing so many wonderful things with us all these years.
And Carl feels the same way, and he's very happy to be sailing into his second century.
And he has...
He has a word of advice to the guys.
He says, in the words of my grandpa, "A woman is as old as she looks, but a man is never old until he stops looking."
Carl: I want to do more things in this life with my child bride.
And if the Lord lets me do it, I'll sure enjoy it.
You got one trip.
Now, you see?
She thought I was getting chilly.
Iris: I never felt pretty. I don't feel pretty now.
I'm not a pretty person. I don't like pretty.
So I don't feel badly, and I think it worked out well because I found that, for instance, all the girls that I know who were very pretty girls and got by on their looks, as time went on and they faded...
They were nothing.
And they were very, very disappointed.
When you're somebody like myself, in order to get around and be attractive, you have to develop something, you have to learn something, and you have to do something.
So you become a bit more interesting.
And when you get older, you get by on that.
Anyway, I don't happen to like pretty.
Most of the world is not with me, but I don't care.
Okay, excuse me. Help yourself.
Have anything you want.
Okay, you ready?
This is your Halloween costume.
Can you see?
Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Poor children.
Look at that. How crazy is that?
And people buy that? Oh, my God.
Man: The Council of the city of New York is proud to honor legendary taste maker, fashion icon, businesswoman, interior designer, and style maverick Iris Apfel.
Today, Mrs. Apfel remains a popular, outspoken, ornate muse for fashion designers and artists of all kinds.
Iris: Thank you all for this humbling honor.
It's really remarkable that I've been able to live and practice my assorted madness in this most multi-leveled city in the world, and I thank you, and I thank all the residents who have supported me and made me what I am today, a geriatric starlet.
I like your jacket.
I would be happy to give you this one.
Oh, fantastic. Voilą.
You'll be a Western... a Western dude.
A Western dude, yeah.
Voilą. Rhys, the dude.
Look at these. I love these.
I think they're...
This has a double-face cashmere, and it actually comes apart so you can wear...
this by itself.
Like a stripper.
Is that supposed to keep me warm?
I don't know. It's Irish wool.
Let's see. How much does it cost?
Well, if you're interested, tell me.
I'll see if I can help you with a deal.
He was the original RCA Victor.
He loves jewelry, and I couldn't get anything to fit him, he has such a fat neck.
And I told him if he went on a diet...
See, they used to fight for jewelry.
They bit his ears.
Finally, I was in a hat shop, and these are hat bands.
So I said, "Gee, that'll fit that fatso."
I bought that one because she looked just like a client I had, that kind of a face.
He's a cute little guy.
Iris: Carl! What?
Do you want a cup of tea? Do I want a cup of tea?
Oh, that would be nice. You do?
Lemon tea, lots of lemon.
Would you like a cup of something?
She's making me some tea.
Good. Is that okay?