Iris Apfel’s Romance with Color: INSIDE HER BOLD MANHATTAN HOME

Doing your own thing is very good, if you have a thing to do! -Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel  is an American businesswoman, former interior designer and fashion icon. At 89, she calls herself a “geriatric starlet” who inspires everyone from designers to glossy magazines. Apfel does not consider herself an art collector, but it is apparent her Upper East Side home is a treasure trove of exotic finds with great style distinction. Take a glimpse inside her sanctuary with these images below ~ peeking into this grande dame’s apartment is such a treat; its clear that it reflects all the delights of a well-seasoned spirit!

Iris Barrel Apfel—fashion muse, decorator, and cofounder of Old World Weavers—wearing Chado Ralph Rucci and jewelry of her own design in the New York City apartment she shares with her husband, Carl. The living room’s bleached-oak boiserie is 18th-century French, and the door hardware is by P. E. Guerin; the screen is also French, while the chair at left, covered in an Old World Weavers tapestry fabric, is 17th-century Sicilian. The arrangement of  Ms. Apfel’s decor is similar to the concept of decorating a Christmas tree with continuous layers revealing continuous beauty.

In the library, a Dutch painting is displayed above a Louis XVI daybed covered in fabric Apfel reproduced with exactness from a 17th-century French document.  Loving the black & white check, well balanced with the brilliance of color celebrated in abundance throughout.

A collection of singerie tops an 18th-century Venetian bombé chest in the living room; the back of the English chair at right is painted with chinoiserie designs. It seems what is going on here is similar to a successful wardrobe collection.  If one pays attention to buying garment and accessory pieces that one loves, they seem to miraculously all work well together in a variety of ways to create an artistic personal expression.  For this very reason, it is wise to invest in items that are well made and will weather time for you to enjoy again and again.

In the entry, an 18th-century English gilt chinoiserie mirror and an Italian console. Wonder if the future will have books being noted from the 21st century?!?

An Italian tole chandelier above a Maison Jansen table draped in a woven paisley throw. Wall and floor detail offers much to the picture. Do wonder if the flowers are real?  It is easy to be fooled by the visual of silk flowers, but the nose knows!!

The first painting Apfel ever bought—a portrait of the Infanta Margarita she picked up 60 years ago at an antique shop in Florence.  This represents at the age of 29 years, Iris clearly was on the way to owning her love of  artistic finds.

Bakelite jewelry in the paws of a hand-carved French mountain dog. Bow-WOW

The entry contains an 18th-century French screen (left), an early-18th-century painted Genoese corner cabinet, and Louis XVI–style chairs upholstered in an Old World Weavers cut velvet. The needlepoint carpet is English. We are in Iris Authentic Apfel’s apartment.

“I was one of the first New York women to wear boots,” says Apfel, who designed the gilt-leather-and-fabric pair on the floor at right. Racks of her vintage pieces fill a spare room; she is especially fond of the metallic-check coat by Galanos. Carerie Bradshaw would loose her mind to be locked in this closet.

A hallway is lined with dog paintings and 19th-century English bookcases brimming with volumes on fashion, decorative arts, and Chinese costumes and textiles. Never enough of the oh so chic….


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