Iris Apfel, born in 1921, is one of America's greatest interior designers. She does not conform to the austere glamour school of design and her style is warm, exotic and pleasingly eclectic. At 91 years old this inspirational style maverick has teamed up with MAC to launch her own signature makeup shades.
SOME WORDS OF WISDOM FROM IRIS (INTO THE GLOSS INTERVIEW)
On being considered ‘cool’:
I don’t like trends anyway—I like tradition. I’m doing the same thing and liking the same things. Of course, to say I don’t change—that makes me sound like I’m a dimwit. You change as you go along. I mean, you grow—but my basic sensibility is the same. I’m not doing anything in a violently different way now than I did fifty years ago. That’s pitiful. My husband and I laugh about it all the time because we think, ‘My God,’ these girls will say, I’m ‘cool’ or I’m ‘hot’ or whatever the expression is, and I’m not doing anything differently than what I did a long time ago. It’s funny. I can’t say I don’t like it, it’s very flattering. Matter-of-fact, I think one of the most flattering things I’ve ever heard—you know, I almost fell out of my chair when someone called to tell me about it—Alexis Bittar’s PR girl has a tattoo of me on her wrist. It’s a very good portrait! I haven’t seen it in person, but apparently it looks just like me.
Getting older ain’t for sissies, I’ll tell you…You have to push yourself when you’re older, because it’s very easy to fall into the trap. You start to fall apart—you just have to do your best to paste yourself together. I think doing things and being active is very important. When your mind is busy, you don’t hurt so much.
Aging gracefully is about no heavy makeup, and not too much powder because it gets into the wrinkles, and you know, to not get turtle eyelids, and to not try to look young. You don’t have to look like an old fuddy-duddy, but I believe it was Chanel who said, ‘Nothing makes a woman look so old as trying desperately hard to look young’. I think you can be attractive at any age. I think trying to look like a spring chicken when you’re not makes you look ridiculous.
On plastic surgery:
I’m very opposed to plastic surgery. I think if—God forbid—you’re in an accident, or if you were cursed with a nose like Pinocchio, you’d have to go and get it fixed. But just to get nipped and tucked, I think it’s very painful, very expensive, and having been in hospitals as much as I have, subjecting yourself to surgery when you don’t need it is not a smart thing to do. But what do I know? I mean, almost everybody does it. I think if women put some more of the time and money they put on their heads in their heads, they’d be better off. I mean, nobody’s going to think you’re thirty-two, so what’s the point?
On using mustache wax as mascara and how to avoid looking like a turtle:
One day, I fell into the hands of my friend’s sister who was a very glamorous fashion model. She took me by the hand and in the other hand she had a tube of black mustache wax. She took a spoon and struck a match, and the wax melted, then she took a brush on the eyes and they beaded—I looked like Miss Piggy. On my eyelashes—very heavy—it was like heavy, heavy, heavy mascara. I had very long lashes, so it was very striking. This was when I was about eighteen, which, let me see—I’m ninety now, so, how long was that? About seventy-two years ago—I don’t know if they even make it anymore. That’s what I used to use, and I used to use eye shadow and very bright lipstick. I’m not good at putting on makeup, but you have to be a moron not to be able to put on lipstick. Now since I’m older, I don’t do my eyes anymore because when you’re older, your eyelids wrinkle. If you use blue or green, and you’re not really expert, you end up looking like a turtle.