«Fashion Rules are Stupid»: Iris Apfel Talks Mixing it Up

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The nonagenarian style icon shares her thoughts on individuality and the story behind her signature specs.


“I’ve always been fascinated by spectacles. As a child, I always used to collect things, and I used to go to flea markets and wander around. Every time I saw an interesting pair of spectacles I bought them and threw them in a box. And periodically I’d take them out and try them on. And sometimes, I’d put them on and­ I thought they were great accessories and I wore them without any lenses when I didn’t need them. And then when I had to wear glasses, I thought ‘Well, I’ll wear glasses!’ – and I like them oversized. So I would wear them and people would always say to me, ‘Why are your spectacles so large?’ I thought it was a useless question and would answer with, ‘The bigger to see you!’ That usually shut them up.”

Revered throughout the fashion and textiles industry for her unconventional style signatures and drolly incisive opinions, Iris Apfel has long forged a path for herself independent of the prevailing trends, favouring the noisy clacking of stacks of brightly coloured bangles to a quiet obedience. A brilliant businesswoman and interior designer as well as a lauded fashion icon, she’s long believed that “more is more and less is a bore”, and now, at the grand old age of 95, that is more evident than ever. Above all else, however, she is champion for originality. “I think all the fashion rules are stupid, because it depends upon who’s wearing it and how they handle it!” she says, unconvinced by the industry’s predilection for simplicity. “It would be nice if people got out of the rut and everybody didn’t want so badly to look alike.”

Iris Apfel is part of Luxottica’s Class Of 2016.