Fashion icon Iris Apfel shares her thoughts on fate, happiness and the meaning of life

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Lauren Geall
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Iris Apfel wearing a turquoise fluffy jacket and smiling for the camera

“Wherever I go, I try to be happy,” explains Apfel. “Remember you have to bring yourself along wherever you go.”

Let’s just take a moment to take in all that is Iris Apfel. The New York fashion icon and all-around queen continues to provide us with all the style inspiration we need with her signature wide-framed glasses and bold, colourful prints, all while dishing out her classic musings on life, courage and self-expression (we’ll take “More is more, less is a bore”  printed on everything, please). 

Now 97, she continues to live her best life - in fact, she’s the face of a new campaign for Magnum, and signed with modelling agency IMG in January. And if you’re not following her on Instagram already, you’ll want to get on that straight away. 

Armed with some burning questions, Stylist sat down with the businesswoman, interior designer and “accidental icon” to find out her thoughts on everything from the meaning of life to cooking. 

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What is the meaning of life?

“For thousands, of years, scholars and philosophers, far more knowledgeable than I have pandered this weighty question. Their thoughts on the subject have filled many libraries. As far as I know there’s no conclusive answer yet so I am no position to ask you one.”

What is the difference between right and wrong?

“That’s a silly question!”

What is your happy place? 

“Well wherever I go, I try to be happy. Remember you have to bring yourself along wherever you go.”

Nature or nurture?

“It’s a combination!”

Is it more important to be liked or respected?

“I think you have to be both, otherwise you’re unbalanced. I think you have to be liked and respected. They are both important so how can you choose one above the other? They go in tandem as far as I’m concerned.”

Do you believe in fate?

“Oh yes, very much so.” 

Animals or babies?

“Well it depends, it’s apples and oranges but I am an animal freak!”

What talent do you yearn for? 

“I wish I could be a good cook.”

Do you like to be complimented?

“Well of course I do. Doesn’t everybody?”

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What book do you recommend most to others?

“At this point, it’s my very own creation, Iris Apfel The Accidental Icon. It was first published in English a year ago and has since been translated into French, Italian, German and soon to come, Russian. So read it in the language of your choice. It’s a series of musings and photographs. I think you will find it a good read.”

What food sums up happiness?


What have you never understood? 

“It would fill two libraries.”

What one item of clothing do you have that always makes you happy?

 “I am lucky, I don’t have just one item, I have many!”

What one thing you have always wanted to know?

“I’ve wanted to know a lot more than just one thing.”

Flats or heels? 


Magnum, the world’s authority on pleasure, has collaborated with 97 year old fashion icon, Iris Apfel, to inspire people to let go of fear of judgement and indulge in the things that bring them true pleasure. For more information about the #TrueToPleasure campaign visit    

Image: Magnum’s Iris True to Pleasure Campaign


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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.

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