Fashion Icon Iris Apfel Dead at 102

Iris Apfel, the interior designer-turned-fashion icon known for her eclectic, colorful style, has died at the age of 102.

Apfel’s rep Lori Sale confirmed the textile expert’s death, adding that Apfel died Friday at her home in Palm Beach, Florida. No cause of death was provided.

“Iris Apfel was extraordinary,” Sale said in a statement (via The Hollywood Reporter). “Working alongside her was the honor of a lifetime. I will miss her daily calls, always greeted with the familiar question: ‘What have you got for me today?’ Testament to her insatiable desire to work.”

Sale added, “She was a visionary in every sense of the word. She saw the world through a unique lens – one adorned with giant, distinctive spectacles that sat atop her nose. Through those lenses, she saw the world as a kaleidoscope of color, a canvas of patterns and prints. Her artistic eye transformed the mundane into the extraordinary and her ability to blend the unconventional with the elegant was nothing short of magical.”

Apfel entered the fashion interest as an employee of Women’s Wear Daily before opening her own interior design and textile companies in the 1950s alongside her husband Carl Apfel, who died in 2015. The Apfels’ Old World Weavers helped restore the White House for nine presidents, beginning with Harry Truman up through Bill Clinton’s tenure, the New York Times reports.

Over the ensuing decades, the Queens, New York-born Apfel became a fixture on the New York fashion scene, where her inimitable style and thick-rimmed circular glasses often stood out. 


Apfel entered the public eye in 2005, when a portion of her massive collection of clothes was showcased in a Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit Rara Avis: Selections From the Iris Apfel Collection. Albert Maysles’ acclaimed documentary Iris followed in 2014. At the time of her death, Apfel had 3 million followers on Instagram.

In recent years, Apfel collaborated with clothing company H&M and signed a modeling deal with IMG. “I love to work. It’s fun because I enjoy it,” Apfel, who called herself “the world’s oldest teenager,” told Today in 2022 upon turning 100. “I think retiring at any age is a fate worse than death. Just because a number comes up doesn’t mean you have to stop.”