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Last updated on March 3rd, 2024 at 10:25 pm

Iris Apfel, originally known as Iris Barrel, was an American woman renowned for her multifaceted career spanning business, interior design, fashion, and acting. Together with her husband, Carl, she operated a successful business from 1950 to 1992, primarily focused on textiles. Their notable achievements included a longstanding contract with the White House, spanning nine presidencies.

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Who was Iris Apfel- Early Life, Age, Career Net Worth, Husband and Kids

After retiring, Iris gained widespread recognition for her 2005 exhibition at The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This exhibit, titled “Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel,” showcased her vast collection of costume jewelry alongside clothing styled according to her unique taste.

Her distinctive fashion sense and style established her as an influential figure in the fashion world, leading to her signing with IMG as a model at the remarkable age of 97 in 2019. Additionally, Iris was the subject of a documentary titled “Iris,” directed by Albert Maysles and released in 2014. She passed away at her home in Palm Beach, Florida, on March 1, 2024, at the age of 102.

NameIris Apfel
Full NameIris Barrel
Born29 August 1921, Queens, New York, United States
Died1 March 2024 (age 102 years)
Death PlaceAt Her Home in Palm Beach, Florida
SpouseCarl Apfel (m. 1948–2015)
EducationSchool of Education (1943), New York University, University of Wisconsin-Madison
ParentsSamuel Barrel, Sadye Barrel
ProfessionBusinesswoman, Interior Designer, Fashion Designer, Actress
WikipediaIris Apfel

Early Life

Iris Apfel, born Iris Barrel on August 29, 1921, in Astoria, Queens, New York City, was the only child of Samuel and Sadye “Syd” Barrel (née Asofsky). Both her parents were Jewish, and despite being raised on a farm by her parents and grandparents, Iris frequently explored Manhattan, developing a fondness for Greenwich Village. It was during these explorations that she began collecting jewelry from various parts of the world.

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Personal Life

Iris and Carl chose not to have children due to the extensive travel involved in their work. They shared a love for the fragrance Yatagan by Caron. Carl passed away on August 1, 2015, at the age of 100, after 67 years of marriage. Iris celebrated her 100th birthday on August 29, 2021.

Iris Apfel Husband

Iris Apfel, alongside her husband Carl Apfel, co-owned a textile company for 42 years before 2005. Specializing in designing fabrics for esteemed clients, their firm catered to a prestigious clientele, including first ladies and Hollywood celebrities. Carl Apfel, known for his appearance in the documentary “Iris” and his marriage to the style icon, passed away at 100 on August 26, 2015, due to congestive heart failure, as confirmed by Pret-a-Reporter.

Iris Apfel Husband-Iris Apfel, alongside her husband Carl Apfel, co-owned a textile company for 42 years before 2005. Specializing in designing fabrics for esteemed clients, their firm catered to a prestigious clientele, including first ladies and Hollywood celebrities.

Did Iris Apfel Have a Daughter

The couple chose not to have children, as Apfel expressed in her memoir, “I didn’t want my child to be raised by a nanny, and trying to juggle everything was simply impossible.” Despite their decision, Apfel maintained a youthful spirit throughout her life, often referring to herself as “the world’s oldest living teenager.” In a 2019 interview with The Times, she expressed amazement at the journey of her life, even in her later years.


Early Work and Business Ventures

Iris began her career as a copywriter for Women’s Wear Daily, earning $15 a week. She also gained experience in interior design while working for Elinor Johnson, dressing apartments for resale and honing her eye for unique items. Additionally, she served as an assistant to illustrator Robert Goodman.

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Marriage and Textile Business

In 1948, Iris married Carl Apfel. Two years later, they established the textile firm Old World Weavers, specializing in reproducing historical fabrics. They traveled to Europe regularly to source materials unavailable in the United States. Over her career, Iris participated in various design restoration projects, including work at the White House for nine presidents.

Fashion and Teaching

Their business travels allowed Iris to amass a collection of non-Western artisanal clothing, which she often wore to high-society events. In 2011, she became a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin in the Division of Textiles and Apparel.

Later Endeavors

In 2016, Iris appeared in a television commercial for the French car DS 3 and became the face of the Australian brand Blue Illusion. She also collaborated with technology startup WiseWear to develop a line of smart jewelry. Her biography, “Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon,” was published in 2018.

Modeling and Continued Influence

At the age of 97 in 2019, Iris signed a modeling contract with the global agency IMG, prompted by Tommy Hilfiger’s encouragement due to her frequent requests for appearances.

Iris Apfel net worth

According to CelebrityNetWorth, Iris Apfel co-founded the textile company Old World Weavers alongside her husband Carl. Her estimated net worth was reported to be $25 million. Iris Barrel Apfel was born on August 29, 1921, and passed away on March 1, 2024.

NameIris Apfel
BornAugust 29, 1921
DiedMarch 1, 2024
OccupationBusinesswoman, Interior Designer, Fashion Icon
Net Worth$25 million (estimated)


Museum Retrospectives

The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City premiered an exhibition celebrating Iris Apfel’s distinctive style on September 13, 2005. Titled “Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel,” it marked the first time the museum showcased an exhibit solely focused on the clothing and accessories of a living individual who wasn’t a designer. The exhibition’s success led to a traveling version displayed at various prestigious venues.

Museum Gallery

The Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History in Boynton Beach, Florida, is currently developing a dedicated gallery to showcase Apfel’s extensive collection of clothes, accessories, and furnishings.

Advisory and Academic Roles

In 2012, at the age of 90, Iris Apfel took on the role of a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin. She shared her expertise by offering consultations and delivering lectures on various fashion-related topics. Her contributions to the field were recognized, including her inclusion in The Guardian’s list of the fifty “Best-Dressed over 50” in 2013.


Iris Apfel became the subject of a documentary titled “Iris,” directed by Albert Maysles. The documentary premiered at the New York Film Festival in October 2014 and was later acquired by Magnolia Pictures for distribution in 2015. Additionally, she appeared in the documentary “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast,” a television film released in 2017.

Barbie Doll

In 2018, Mattel honored Iris Apfel by creating a Barbie doll modeled after her likeness, making her the oldest individual to have a Barbie fashioned in her image. This recognition was considered the highest honor bestowed by the Barbie brand. While the Barbie doll released alongside Apfel’s book was not available for purchase, Mattel also produced two commercially available “Styled by Iris Apfel” Barbie dolls.


Women Together Special Award of the YearJune 7, 201612th Annual Women Together Gala held at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Pioneer AwardNovember 2016Recognition for her contributions to the fashion industry, presented at the United Nations in New York City
The New Jewish Home’s Eight over Eighty Gala 2017 honoreeHonor bestowed by The New Jewish Home, recognizing individuals aged over eighty for their significant achievements and contributions to society

1Iris Apfel’s 10 Life Lessons- Lessons for a Fulfilling Life Journey

Embrace Your Age

Iris Apfel advocates disregarding one’s age as merely a number and focusing on pursuing passions wholeheartedly. She believes that immersing oneself in work can be invigorating and that age should not limit one’s ambitions or enthusiasm for life.

Choose Supportive Partners

Apfel fondly remembers her late husband, Carl, as a supportive and encouraging partner who celebrated her successes. She emphasizes the importance of having a partner who appreciates and encourages one’s endeavors.

Seize Opportunities

Apfel encourages seizing exciting opportunities as they arise, regardless of age or expectations. She believes in following one’s instincts and pursuing new ventures with enthusiasm and curiosity.

Maintain a Youthful Mindset

Maintaining a sense of wonder, humor, and curiosity is essential for staying young at heart, according to Apfel. She believes that cultivating these qualities keeps life interesting and fosters a youthful outlook.

Trust Your Judgment

Apfel advises against conforming to societal norms and encourages individuals to trust their instincts and opinions. She emphasizes the importance of being true to oneself and not seeking validation from others.

Balance Individuality with Connection

While celebrating individuality, Apfel acknowledges the importance of fitting into social contexts. She advises finding a balance between standing out and being accepted, emphasizing the value of both originality and belonging.

Define Success on Your Terms

Success, for Apfel, is not merely measured by financial wealth but by happiness, love, and fulfillment. She believes that true success comes from personal fulfillment and meaningful connections.

Style Transcends Material Wealth

Apfel believes that true style is not dependent on expensive clothing or accessories. Instead, it is about confidence and individuality, regardless of the price tag attached to one’s attire.

Take Small Steps Towards Your Goals

According to Apfel, progress is achieved through taking small, determined steps toward one’s goals. She emphasizes the importance of action and persistence in pursuing dreams.

Embrace Aging Authentically

Apfel encourages embracing the natural process of aging without resorting to attempts to appear younger artificially. She believes that embracing one’s wrinkles and aging gracefully is a testament to authenticity and self-acceptance.

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