“I Never Wanted To Be Pretty”

Robert Maysles captures his incomparable subject Iris Apfel uttering this line toward the end of his documentary film Iris as she sums up her life perspective. While she believes the rest of the world probably disagrees with her it is a mantra by which she has lived her life. And Iris proves she is beyond “pretty”—she is the epitome of imaginative style. Dubbed a rare bird of fashion she lives a gorgeous life full of verve, wit and impeccable sartorial choices.


At 93, she is helping to curate museum shows around the country of her wardrobe and accessories, selling a line of jewelry on QVC, modeling for art and style magazines and working with retail stores to share her passion and vision of dress.

She makes a delightful personality and the film shines as the filmmakers follow her through her daily world. We also meet her charming and doting husband as well as support staff and other friends in their lives. The film is a love letter to a charming woman who has lived a life of exotic choices with a great deal of fun and very little caution. Never shying away from a common item, she is fearless in mixing a Harry Winston bauble with everyday denim and thinks shopping in Harlem or a Palm Beach thrift shop is just as thrilling as Bergdorf Goodman (if not more so for the unexpected treasure one might find).

Iris Apfel #2

The film is a pleasure throughout in addition to being immensely entertaining as one learns about her life through photos and reminiscent stories. Iris is equally conversant about what is happening right now. She’s observant with an active pulse on the current. And she is humbly appreciative of the turn her life has taken with the recent surge of attention she’s getting. She takes it all in stride and is enjoying every minute of it as she becomes, in her own words, a geriatric starlet.

She is simply an inspiration for everyone about the life well lived and the exploration of, and fierce commitment to, personal style. A rare bird indeed!