Still undecided on a costume? We’ve got a bunch of great ideas just hanging out on the racks at the store. If you’re stumped, come see us. We’ve got you covered. In the mean time, here are some images to inspire you…
There is a great sense of satisfaction that comes from hearing someone else voice the importance of dressing for creativity and individuality. I’ve had wonderful conversations over the years with many customers that cross my path on the subject, and love that feeling of having a style connection with someone I may never meet again. There’s comfort in knowing that I have little fashion soul mates in the world. Even more fascinating is when one of these fashion soul mates is a woman, now in her 80’s, who’s extravagant and inspiring sense of style has climbed mountains in the fashion world and now sits on exhibit for all to admire. Iris Apfel is a style icon whose spirit has inspired bold developments in fashion on small and large levels.
On exhibit now through February 7th 2010 at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, you will find over 80 unexpected combinations of architecturally beautiful clothing pieces donning porcelain mannequins arranged by inventive themes in adjoining rooms. Outrageously juxtaposed jewelry, some dating back to the 1800’s, gawk at you as you peer through glass boxes and marvel at their history as well as the unconventional allure that Iris saw in them. As I personally walked through the exhibit, I heard comments such as “She actually wore that?” and “Wow. I could never pull that off”. In retrospect, I have heard a countless number of women say how inspired they are to take more chances in their style choices. Every time, I envision myself giving Iris an imaginary high five.
Iris Apfel is someone who pushes boundaries and takes risks. In a video of her speaking in one of the exhibit rooms that I could hear faintly in the background as I admired a Tibetan prayer box she wore as a piece of jewelry, she was mentioning how fashion designer Ralph Lauren met her and said, “You’re so free…You’re so free” That is exactly how I would describe her. Being quoted as shopping on her own since the age of twelve, she had to be creative from an early age, and my opinion is that when you begin an interest in developing your own style at such an early age, what else is there to do but go beyond the limitations of mainstream fashion and display your self through the creative outlet of clothing?
After deciding against going into the fashion editorial business, Iris and her husband founded “Old World Weavers”, thus beginning her career in Interior Design. In her fashion choices, you can see the correlation between her appreciation for textiles and architectural design and clothing, and most often it is apparent that she adorns herself with these aspects in mind. Choosing a well structured coat, for example, with boots made of the same fabric act as her background, and giant bobbled necklaces layered over and over again are a centerpiece and the ensemble is topped off with her signature round glasses. You could add the same elements to a window treatment, and in Iris’ eyes interior and fashion design go hand in hand.
In a wonderful interview conducted in 2006, Iris and the interviewer were discussing how older women are encouraged to wear beige and blend into the background and Iris added that younger women are encouraged to do this as well. She went on to mention, “A lovely lady, Jessica Kagan Cushman who makes jewelry, working in scrimshaw on ivory, gave me this wonderful bracelet that subsequently someone stole from me at a restaurant when I took it off for just seconds. Anyway, it said something like, “Fashion can be bought. Style you must own”. You can teach people good taste and you can teach people to be tolerant and liberated and open…you can even teach them how to be more courageous…but there is a certain ‘something’ that can’t be taught…Can you teach someone to paint like Michelangelo? You can’t. It is an art form.” (quote from http://www.lookonline.com/iristranscriptcomplete.html)
As part of the exhibit, a fashion show is obviously in order, and who better to creatively direct it than Christine Robidoux, owner of Modern Millie. For anyone who hasn’t seen a Modern Millie Fashion Show, they are more theater oriented than a runway show. The models are chosen for their unique beauty and are performers, not catwalk stick figures. This concept, combined with the stylish freedom of Iris Apfel are a fantastic duo. The show will feature clothing representative of Iris’ style and will identify with the themes of the exhibit. During her time in Salem, Iris even paid a shopping visit to Modern Millie where she played dress up with Christine, and walked away with colorful, sequined and architecturally fabulous new pieces to mix into her wardrobe.
Event Information from PEM website:
Fashion Session with Iris Apfel
Friday, December 4, 2009 from 6:30pm - 10pm
Reservations by December 2
Members $30, nonmembers $40
Proceeds support PEM’s education programs
“Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel is open for viewing from 6:30 to 9 pm. Cash bar and light hors d’oeuvres available. Extended hours at the Museum Shop. Start your evening with an exhibition tour and some shopping. Then, enjoy a lively conversation between Iris Apfel and designer Michael Vollbracht as Apfel recounts the experiences and influences that shaped her iconic fashion style. Vollbracht, former creative director of Bill Blass Limited, launched his own line in 2008. He is a top New York designer and creator of Bloomingdale’s Big Brown Bag. Watch Apfel’s inspiration come to life in a fashion show produced by Christine Robidoux of Salem’s Modern Millie. In collaboration with the Museum Shop, the show features clothing and accessories created exclusively for sale at PEM, vintage fashions from Modern Millie and select pieces from Apfel’s personal collection.”
Other exciting events surrounding the exhibit are:
Stylin’ with Isaac and Iris
Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 8pm
Members $30, nonmembers $40
“Fashion Designer Isaac Mizrahi and Iris Apfel will discuss fashion, style and personal idenity…”
Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel On view October 17, 2009 to February 7, 2010 Located in the Special Exhibition Galleries
all photos courtesy of http://www.pem.org/
Modern Millie Fashion Show image courtesy of http://modernmillieshop.com/