Food & Drink Features

At 97, Iris Apfel is “the posterchild of living life with a playful twinkle in your eye”

Fashion’s favorite geriatric just launched a global pleasure campaign that involves the cool photography duo Mert & Markus and filmmaker Martin Werner.
ANCX Staff | May 14 2019

Magnum, the popular handheld ice cream, just announced its most playful collaboration yet: a campaign with the 97-year old style icon and businesswoman Iris Apfel. To launch its #TrueToPleasure campaign—geared to inspire people to be true to what brings them pleasure—the New Yorker stars in vivid, bold and colourful stills, shot by the inimitable Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott. She also graces two short films directed by Martin Werner.

“I have done many things in my life and throughout, I have always tried to live without fear of judgment. Otherwise, you miss out on all the fun!” said Apfel who started her career as a decorator before her outlandish dressing style became her calling card. She has also given inspiration to both men and women in their advanced age to never settle for the dowdy and the boring when it comes to fixing themselves up. “I was thrilled to collaborate with Magnum to bring this attitude to life and I hope we inspire you to do the same. Feel empowered to be a little more lighthearted and playful… I know I will continue to do so!”


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“We have been lucky enough to shoot many of the great icons, so adding Iris to our hall of fame was a true pleasure,” said the photographer Mert Alas who has photographed covers for Vogue and Vanity Fair. “She is the posterchild of living life with a playful twinkle in your eye, exactly the kind of strong woman we love to capture. This is what we really aimed to capture in the stills.”

A living legend, Apfel has filled her years with color and elements of the good life. She launched and ran Old World Weavers, an international fabric manufacturing company, with her late husband Carl Apfel, from 1950-1992. During this time, she decorated the White House for nine successive US presidents from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton, and was nicknamed “First Lady of Fabric.”

Always fashionable, Apfel claims to be the first woman to wear jeans. At the age of 84, she was the subject of an exhibit at The Costume Institute in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. That same year, Mattel created the Apfel Barbie doll, making her the oldest person to have ever had a Barbie made in her image. “I never think of my age, it’s just a number. I look at the world as if I’m discovering it for the first time. You might as well enjoy every minute and definitely tomorrow.”

Her first big job in beauty and fashion came when she was at the tender age of ninety, where she developed a limited-edition make-up collection for MAC cosmetics. In 2014, an Emmy nominated Netflix documentary of her life was released which was produced by famed documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles. In 2018, Harper Collins released Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon, a biography of her life, and finally in February this year, she signed with the world’s most elite modelling agency, IMG.

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The campaign also sees Iris take her turn to star in two short films, which were captured as episodes.

Directed by Martin Werner, the first episode is a window into Iris’ fascinating life and the many ways she has proudly pursued her own true pleasures. “I was the first woman to ever wear jeans. I’ve done restoration work in the White House. They’ve even made dolls of me, but you know what? Who cares. I’m not looking back.”

The second episode defines Iris’ manifesto for a new generation of pleasure seekers to let go and indulge, taking inspiration from her own life, to be authentic to what personally brings them true pleasure. Episode 1 can be viewed here and Episode 2 can be viewed here.

“I really wanted this campaign to capture the true essence of Iris and what makes her such a captivating and inspiring icon,” said Werner. “The films show how, even at 97, she pursues what brings her pleasure in life – her wicked sense of humor and her bright colorful outlook made it a joy to create.”