Connected \\ August 28, 2019
Someone, somewhere once said, “Age? That's nothing but a number.”
This statement couldn’t ring more true than it does for Mrs. Iris Barrel Apfel, born August 29, 1921. Iris, as she is affectionately known by her fans the world over, turns 98 today. But don’t let her hear you compliment her on how she’s doing great for her age, because for Iris it’s just another day at work.
Iris Apfel at Bergdorf Goodman, March 15, 2018. Photography by Tiffany Sage/BFA
Iris Apfel Barbie. Photography by Tiffany Sage/BFA
Accidental Icon. Photography by Tiffany Sage/BFA
After the MET’s exhibition closed, there was so much interest in traveling the show, Iris took it upon herself to see it to three additional venues. PEM was fortunate to be the exhibition’s last venue in 2009. What developed as the result is a beautiful relationship between museum and muse which continues today. Iris loved PEM’s installation of her collection so much that at its close, she bequeathed her entire Rare Bird of Fashion collection to the museum (90 complete ensembles), thus igniting our fashion initiative. Since then, we have benefited greatly from Iris’s generosity as she continues to donate her clothing to the museum on an annual basis (over 1000 individual pieces to date) and this past December for the first time, she enabled us to acquire pieces from Carl’s wardrobe, which was both an honor and a privilege for PEM.
Iris Apfel styles one of her ensembles on view in the PEM installation of Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel on view at PEM from October 17, 2009 - February 7, 2010
This September, PEM is extraordinarily proud and excited to open our first permanent gallery dedicated to fashion and design. It will be a unique combination of fashion and textiles from our permanent collection intermingled with decorative and industrial design spanning across multiple departments and time periods. At the core of the installation we pose the idea that we are designing creatures and as such, we design for our bodies, our environments and our society. The gallery will boast a rotating selection of clothing worn by both Carl and Iris, the only museum in the country to do so, with their section appropriately located at the heart of our experience. Because, really, who better than these two extraordinarily stylish and talented individuals to get visitors to see how hard work and an affinity for style and grace can shape your whole world? Come visit the new Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery.
A new PEM is launching this September — a new wing, new installations and a whole new museum experience. PEM Members get to see it all first. Join or renew on our Membership page to ensure you don't miss out! Follow along and share in the excitement using #newPEM.
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