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Iris Apfel, a name synonymous with bold colors, audacious accessories, and a refreshing lack of fashion rules, passed away recently at the age of 102. But Apfel’s legacy extends far beyond her flamboyant style. This self-proclaimed “geriatric starlet” was a true iconoclast who shattered age barriers and redefined fashion for a new generation.

Apfel’s journey to fashion stardom wasn’t a conventional one. Her background in textiles, working alongside her husband Carl for over four decades, instilled in her a deep appreciation for quality and craftsmanship. This foundation, coupled with her adventurous spirit, led her to curate a wardrobe brimming with personality. Mixing vintage finds with high-end pieces, Apfel fearlessly embraced maximalism, turning oversized glasses, chunky jewelry, and vibrant patterns into her signature trademarks.

In 2005, a seemingly ordinary event – an exhibit of Apfel’s personal collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute – catapulted her into the fashion stratosphere. The exhibit, titled “Rara Avis (Rare Bird),” showcased Apfel’s unique style to the world, turning her into an overnight sensation.

Apfel’s impact wasn’t just about aesthetics; it was about empowering individuality and self-expression. She championed the idea that fashion is a personal playground, free from the dictates of age or trends. Her message resonated deeply, inspiring countless people to embrace their unique sense of style.

Beyond fashion, Apfel’s career encompassed interior design, textile restoration for the White House, and even a stint as a model at the ripe age of 97. Her life was a testament to the power of staying curious, refusing to be defined by age, and always staying true to oneself. Iris Apfel may be gone, but her legacy of vibrant style, unwavering confidence, and a life lived to the fullest continues to inspire.