Fashion / Style

99-Year-Old Style Icon Stars in New UT Coloring Book — Iris Apfel Gets a Spotlight Texas Moment

One-of-a-Kind Fashion Force is a University of Texas Professor, Too

BY // 10.06.20

Every fashionista worth her Louboutins is familiar with style icon Iris Apfel, the 99-year-old fashion diva recognizable for her shock of white hair and her signature oversized glasses. But you don’t have to turn in your Manolos if you did not know that this grand dame is also a professor at the University of Texas.

That info is surging through cyberspace with announcement of publication of the delightful tome Iris The Coloring Book.

Apfel donned the “professor” mantle in 2010 when she became the guiding force behind an immersive learning experience for students in the university’s Textiles and Apparel Program. Students spend a week in New York meeting with Apfel and with representatives from the full spectrum of the fashion industry including designers, merchants and retailers.

“They proposed my having the kids coming up and my taking them around to a lot of designers,” Apfel says on a UT video. “I decided I might as well start at the top so I only asked the best people and not one of them refused. I’ll be darn.”

Iris Apfel
Iris Apfel

The most recent UT in NYC  excursion included meetings with Tommy Hilfiger, Naeem Khan, Alexis Bittar and Donna Karan who escorted the students through her Urban Zen studio.

The coloring book, which can be ordered here, was conceived as a fundraiser to assist UT in NYC participants in covering the cost of the week in New York. Promotional material on the book, which we have not seen, reads: “The autobiographical coloring book is full of whimsical drawings and witty sayings that illustrate Apfel’s unlikely journey from textile executive to fashion darling and style savant.”

A businesswoman who with her husband founded Old World Weavers in 1950, Apfel was also an interior designer who participated in several design restoration projects, including work at the White House for nine presidents ranging from Truman to Clinton. Known for her overloaded eccentric style, Apfel was the subject of an exhibition, Rara Avis (Rare Bird): Selections from the Iris Apfel Collection, in 2015 that was premiered by the Costume Institute at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. She was 84 at the time.

Accompanying the exhibition was this notation: “An American original in the truest sense, Iris Apfel is one of the most vivacious personalities in the worlds of fashion, textiles and interior design, and over the past 40 years, she has cultivated a personal style that is both witty and exuberantly idiosyncratic.

“Her originality is typically revealed in her mixing of high and low fashions – Dior haute couture with flea market finds, 19th-century ecclesiastical vestments with Dolce & Gabbana lizard trousers.”

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