Saturday, March 19, 2016

Are you Team Iris or Team Jacqueline?

I have a confession to make. I'm Team Jacqueline.


Iris Apfel, from a recent spread in How to Spend It

For the past decade, the fashion world has been agog with Iris Apfel, who at 94, is probably the oldest living fashionista.

Wearing Gucci in 2016

It really started when the Met did a show of her clothes and accessories in 2005.



A few years ago, with her husband
The documentary Iris came out in 2014.

And I get it. She's colorful. She's a good mannequin. And with the trademark piling on of accessories and the huge glasses, she's instantly recognizable in that way that you're supposed to be when you're a brand.

In 2011

But I don't like her style. It feels like a stunt. She sort of reminds me of a matryoshka doll--lots of pattern, no line. It's artistic—an endless pile-on, eclectic, expansive—always more, never less—like wearing a slide show of one's travels.

Wearing Gucci in the 1980s

I much prefer Jacqueline de Ribes. She lived in a time and in circles where formal balls and even masked costume balls were still a thing. And she put together some amazing costumes.

In Dior, in 1957

Always elegant, she made the Best Dressed List in 1956, and was added to the International Best-Dressed Hall of Fame in 1962.  She didn't just wear couture, either. She went from tinkering with her clothes to create costumes to designing her own gowns. Eventually, she had her own design house.


In 1985 in one of her own designs

She kept her regal profile.
Wearing one of her own designs

And rocked a cat eye.


In 2015, the Costume Institute of the Met did an exhibit on her. Of course I missed it, because the last time I was in New York, I was with my husband, and I didn't have the heart to drag him to a clothing exhibit.




It seems inconsistent that I would prefer de Ribes to Apfel, since I have a pretty lively sense of humor. And I certainly never under-accessorize. I've been known to sport the wacky: Zalo pumps with parrots on the toes; Batman loafers; crazy huge obviously fake costume jewelry galore.

I guess there's still a large part of me that wants to dress like a real grown-up lady. And so, while I "get" Iris, I admire Jacqueline, and look to her, less for inspiration, more as a refreshment to my eyes.

But who cares what I think? Let's let Iris have the last word.




15 comments:

  1. Thank you for nailing the little thing about Iris that always nagged at me. She's adorable but piling it all on just makes me think she's a very fancy Mrs. Potato Head.

    Also - that Jacqueline de Ribes show was fire. I saw it last fall with my brother - gorgeous.

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    1. So jealous! I didn't even know it was on, and my one museum visit was to the Museum of the City of New York, where I spent far too much time staring at Picasso's ballet scenery and Alexander Hamilton's dentures, or some such.

      One of these days I'm going to do what *I* want when I'm in New York. IT WILL HAPPEN.

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  2. We all know I love and adore Iris. I get that her taste looks a little kooky and overdone to many, but...that's what I admire. She doesn't need to look traditionally "grown up" to be cool, if that makes sense; she's fine with the colors, the patterns, and the drama. I'm a tacky individual, though, so it's obvious that she'd be one of my personal icons.

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    1. I'm thinking deep thoughts about fashion and elderly women, and it appears that as a culture, we celebrate older women most when they cultivate their bohemian, arty side. I see this in blogs and books like Advanced Style.

      My concern is that this may reflect an unhealthy distaste for the idea of over-60 women being beguiling, sexual creatures.

      On the other hand, if a woman wants to rock a steampunk or Bohemian aesthetic, more power to her. It's incredibly liberating to be able to wear whatever the hell you want, and not be concerned in the least with the male gaze.

      So ... it's complicated.

      I'll say this, though: Iris and Jacqueline are both consistent in their sense of style, over a span of many decades, which is commendable of them both.

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  3. I am with you Poppy .... team Jacqueline for she is extremely elegant and did not have her nose "done" ! Oh many would - especially now !
    Iris , this year , is the face of a fashion boutique here in Australia .... I was surprised when she popped up on all their adds - would Aussie women identify with her? I don't but ......
    Look, I love an eccentric person but somehow I find Iris a bit "try hard" - if you know what I mean?

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    1. Iris is seriously all over the place. She must be raking it in!

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  4. It's a little bit apples and oranges. I appreciate Iris but I cannot stand the whole Advanced Style thing. Why must these older ladies look like they've lost their minds? Jacqueline would never grab at attention that way - it seems demeaning, I think. Iris is fun and kooky and I might have a drink with her.

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    1. I agree with you 100 percent, with argyle tights, a cape, and a kooky hat. And now I need a drink.

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  5. Team Jacqueline all the way! The epitome of grace and elegance. While I admire Iris' dedication to her look, she just seems like a caricature to me.

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    1. See, I'm already so batty, I can't afford to dress like too much of an eccentric. They'd cart me away to the loony bin!

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  6. Don't make me choose I luff them both!!! x

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    1. And here I was planning a series ... are you Team Diana or Team Kate? Team Jackie or Team Michelle? LOL! xxx

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  7. So with you on this. I do like Iris, she was a real hoot when she came to Bloomingdale's 59th Street one night when I was working there, to promote her handbag line. She had quite the crowd that lined up to meet her! One of my coworkers wanted to meet her too and when she did Iris wrote on her card, "Sell, sell, sell." Hilarious! However, I saw that Jacqueline de Ribes show last month (on closing weekend, it was a madhouse) and I really love her style so much more. The clothes were amazing and so well made. You should treat yourself to the book on the exhibit, my mother bought it and I had a look inside. It's beautiful! And really shows the clothes. It should still be available on the Met's website. I think there are some postcards too, you would love them. Buy the book and the postcards for yourself, you deserve them! xx

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    1. You've talked me into it! I do love a good exhibit catalog. I swear I'll get the Phyrne Fisher book too, even if I have to beg one of my Aussie readers to buy it for me!

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  8. I like them both but I do see your point. Iris was at the forefront of the style at all times and ages ethos way before Advanced Style of course. I think AS has though also as all social movements diverged into the mockery and pastiche of itself and I see women around town who are now in proper costumes thinking they are Coco Chanel mistakenly. Iris works because she is authentic. Jacqueline works because she's got the whole patrician jolie-laide thing going on. Win win I say.

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Gentle Readers:

For the time being, I've turned off comment moderation. Please don't spam; it's not nice.

xxx, Poppy.