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Iris Apfel FAQs

Q: Who is Iris Apfel?

98-year-old Iris Apfel is an American sartorial superstar and global fashion icon known for her daring personal style and signature round glasses. She has been the subject of several museum exhibitions, a coffee-table book, a documentary, a campaign for MAC Cosmetics, and even had two Barbie™ dolls created in her likeness.

Q: I’m a huge fan of Iris Apfel! How can I see her outfits at PEM?

PEM is honored to care for and present Iris Apfel’s Rare Bird of Fashion collection. In our Fashion and Design gallery, you can experience 18 full ensembles from the Apfels, 15 from Iris and 3 from her late husband, Carl. These ensembles will rotate on a regular basis to protect the garments from excessive light exposure and ensure that the installation stays lively and fresh. The Carl & Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery at PEM, given in loving memory of Iris’ parents Sam and Syd Barrel, is the largest known museum presentation of the Apfel collection currently on view.

Q: Why is the Iris Apfel collection at PEM?

In 2009/2010, PEM was the final venue for the traveling exhibition, Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel. Iris loved PEM’s installation of her collection so much that at the exhibition’s 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 1,000 individual pieces to date). In 2018 Iris enabled PEM to acquire pieces from her late husband Carl’s wardrobe, which was both an honor and a privilege for the museum.