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Iris Apfel, fashion icon and businesswoman, dies aged 102

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American fashion icon and businesswoman Iris Apfel has died at her home in Palm Beach, Florida, aged 102.

The news was confirmed on her social media accounts in the early hours of Saturday morning and by her agent, who called her “extraordinary” and said she was the personification of style.

No cause of death was given. She was last pictured celebrating the Leap Year on Thursday.

Born in New York in 1921, Apfel was primarily an interior designer and became a public figure thanks to a contract that saw her and her husband Carl consult on interiors in the White House for six presidents.

But later in life, she captured attention through her colourful bohemian style – wearing irreverent, eye-catching outfits, mixing haute couture and oversized costume jewellery.

Her fame blew up in 2005 when the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York hosted a show about her called Rara Avis – Latin for rare bird.

She referred to herself as a “geriatric starlet” – she regularly appeared in the style pages of the New York Times, was photographed for Vogue Magazine and featured in adverts for Coach, MAC Cosmetics and Kate Spade.

Apfel amassed more than three million followers on Instagram and another 215,000 followers on TikTok.

She also designed a line of accessories and jewellery for the US Home Shopping Network, collaborated with H&M on a sold-out-in-minutes collection of brightly-coloured apparel, jewellery and shoes, put out a makeup line with Ciaté London, and partnered with Ruggable on floor coverings.

Image:
Ms Apfel on the runway during New York Fashion Week in 2012. Pic: Reuters

Her style was also the subject of a documentary film, Iris, directed by Albert Maysles.

Ms Apfel was pre-deceased by her husband Carl, who died in 2015 aged 100.

She was also an expert on textiles and antique fabrics, and owned a textile manufacturing company, Old World Weavers, with her husband.

The company specialised in restoration work, including projects at the White House. Ms Apfel’s celebrity clients included Estee Lauder and Greta Garbo.

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