Iris Apfel

Style icon Iris Apfel rose to international acclaim when her clothes and accessories became the focus of a 2005 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Apfel studied art and art history at NYU and the University of Wisconsin and worked briefly for Women’s Wear Daily and designer Elinor Johnson before launching Old World Weavers, a textile firm, with her husband in 1950. For the next forty years, she did interior design and restoration, including work at the White House under nine presidents: Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Regan, and Clinton. Although she retired in 1992, she reached new levels of fame in the fashion world when the Costume Institute at the Met did an exhibit on her personal style, Rara Avis, which led to a traveling exhibition. She then went on to create lines of clothes and accessories for the Home Shopping Network and other venues, and in 2012 taught at the University of Texas at Austin. As of 2014 she continues to design, consult, and lecture on fashion.


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Iris Apfel.

Photograph by Bruce Weber, courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum.

Date of Birth

Queens, NY
United States

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Iris Apfel." (Viewed on August 9, 2020) <>.


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