Iris Apfel at One Kings Lane's NYC offices, 2014. One Kings Lane/Ryan Dixon.
One look at Iris Apfel and you can tell she's been places. Beyond the stories time can tell, it's apparent by her standout sense of personal style that she has lived an exotic life brimming with colorful adventure. An avid traveler, the 92-and-a-half-year-old has spent her lifetime seeking out aesthetic inspiration in the most remote places while feeding her shopping addiction every stop along the way. Apfel—who predominantly has worked as an interior and textile designer only to be cast in the unlikley role of fashion icon, if you put it in perspective, relatively recently—has accumulated so much stuff that the storage facilities she leases in Queens are full to capacity.
"I just want to get my stuff out," the self-proclaimed "geriatric starlet" says with a laugh in an exclusive interview with ELLEDECOR.com. "I want it to all go so I can just make it easy on everybody!"
Enter . After years of conversations with Apfel, the expert team of buyers at the innovative decor e-tailer convinced her to let a few things go... well, 800 things to be precise. On April 5, in an event that can only be described as epic by both fashion and interior design standards, you can click "Buy" on eclectic treasures that the aesthete personally eyed-out (think finds she picked up at Paris flea markets in the '40s, souks in Marrakech in the '60s, the square in Santa Fe in the '70s)
12 of the 800 personal items Apfel is selling on One Kings Lane Saturday, April 5.
ELLEDECOR.com: What's your advice for finding treasures at flea markets and thrift stores?
Iris Apfel: I do know what I would look for and it's typically not what most people are attracted to. Look for what pleases you. If you buy something and you're not comfortable with wearing it or having it out, then it's not for you. I always tell everybody, being well dressed or having your home well decorated is a choice. If you have to go through too much stress or aggravation or too much this or that... then, forget it! It's better to be happy than to be chic. You just need to relax. There are no fashion police that are going to carry you away!
ED: When One Kings Lane cleared your warehouses, did you come across stuff you forgot you even owned?
IA: Absolutely! There were a lot of things I had forgotten. You can't remember everything! Some things I had never even unpacked!
ED: What piece of furniture would you never part with?
IA: A number of things! There are a few things I'm letting go of that were very difficult. However, I'm taking a number of pieces down to my house in Palm Beach—I can't fit anything else into my Park Avenue place.
ED: Does your husband enjoy hunting for unique objects as much as you do?
IA: We've been married 66 years—it's a long time! At the beginning, when we were first married, he wanted everything new. He would act like a spoiled brat when I passed an antique shop. He would say, "I don't want to go in! I don't want anyone else's old troubles!" But, once we got established he started to love it.
ED: If your friends were shopping the sale, what would you advise them to look out for?
IA: Well, it depends what the friend wanted and what they needed. There are a number of things that are very unusual and ridiculously priced I could sell them on!
ED: You have your hands in so many different projects, do you just like staying busy?
IA: Some days I'm frantic! Like today, I was supposed to give the people from MAC Cosmetics a quote but then my phone went dead… so I stole my husband's, called them back with no luck and now they're calling me back and I'm in the middle of a movie shoot!
ED: It sounds like you need an assistant! Did you ever think you'd be busier than ever in your nineties?
IA: I never wanted to stop working, but I never dreamt of being a geriatric starlet! Sometimes I grumble, but I thank god every night that I am 92-and-a-half and I am asked to do so many things. Getting shot for magazine covers and all kinds of stuff! It's very exciting. I have been on the cover of every European publication you can think of, all these blogs and television shows too. It's coo coo!
ED: Do you still follow interior designers or do you just blaze your own path?
IA: I haven't been interested in an interior designer in a long, long time. Everything looks the same—if I could tell you the truth! I can't say that I don't see new pretty things here and there, but mostly it's all boring as far as I am concerned. You can't tell who lives in any of these apartments. They're like divine hotel suites.
ED: Too modern or too stark?
They're just all the same. It's like a formula and I don't like that.
ED: You've worked in both fashion and interior design. What are you most passionate about?
IA: Fashion and interior design are one in the same.
ED: You would say you definitely don't follow trends?
IA: Things are either good or they're not. They either suit you or they don't. Some years all the colors and cuts are wonderful, other years they're ridiculous. I never buy what someone says is "in" or a "must-have." I buy what makes me happy.
ED: What exactly does it take to be chic?
IA: It's a big discussion… To sum it up, unfortunately, most people are not chic. You have to know who you are and you have to be comfortable with it. You just have to do it.
ED: How can people tap into their inner uniqueness?
IA: Self-exploration is very painful, but unless you do that you will never know who you are and who you want to be. People want all the results without doing any work. You don't find out who you are unless you work at it.
My moment with the living legend at One Kings Lane's NYC offices...
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