Fashion icon Iris Apfel dies at 102

A lifelong fan of kaleidoscopic accessories, fashion icon Iris Apfel has sadly passed away at the age of 102. Here, we celebrate the jewellery lover's fabulous wit and witticisms

2 March 2024

By Kim Parker

“If there was a choice on spending a lot of money on accessories or a dress, I always chose accessories. I think jewellery can change an outfit more than anything else,” said the iconic Iris Apfel, who has sadly passed away at the grand age of 102.

Iris Apfel
Ever a jewellery lover, Iris Apfel sits for a portrait during her 100th Birthday Party in 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Central Park Tower)

The New York society queen and former interior designer found fame – and a huge fan following – in her 80s and 90s for her straight-talking character and her incredible style, which saw her mix vintage, haute couture and boho fashion finds with ease and aplomb. Her deep love of bold and bright accessories of all kinds made her a brand in her own right – her signature armfuls of colourful bangles (the bigger and bolder, the better!), oversized breaded necklaces and distinctive dark-rimmed glasses brought her successful brand collaborations as well as legions of ardent admirers.

Here, we celebrate some of the wit and witticisms – and of course, amazing looks – of a true one-of-a-kind. She will be sadly missed.

Iris Apfel
Iris Apfel attends the 26th Annual QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes On Sale” Gala on in 2019 dressed in monochromatic ropes of beaded necklaces (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Fashion Footwear Charitable Foundation)

“I think jewellery can change an outfit more than anything else. Transformation, punch, individuality: One of all of the above are why you should wear jewellery” – Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel
Iris Apfel attends 2016 Fashion Group International Night Of Stars Gala wearing armfuls of her signature bold bangles (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

I’ve always like the more flamboyant, imaginative things. I lusted after costume jewellery. My husband is a very lucky man” – Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel
Later in life, Iris Apfel was a frequent fixture on the FROW at fashion week, such as here at Monse at New York Fashion Week in 2016 (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

When you don’t dress like everyone else then you don’t have to think like everyone else” – Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel
Saint Louis Fashion Fund Gala 2015 Honorees Paul Dillinger and Iris Apfel posing for pictures during the Saint Louis Fashion Fund Gala in 2015 (Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images for Saint Louis Fashion Fund)

“You can change the look of an outfit so easily by changing the kind of jewellery you wear. If you have a basic outfit on – a black sweater and skirt or a simple black dress – you can go from the office to a cocktail party at night just by changing your jewellery” – Iris Apfel

iris Apfel
Grey lady: Iris Apfel attended VIOLET GREY’s She’s So Violet Garden Tea, held in her honour, in 2015. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for VIOLET GREY)

Clothes are not frippery. Properly done, they can be an art form” – Iris Apfel

Like this? Check out all the best red carpet jewels at the SAG Awards 2024