“I think personal style is mostly attitude,” Iris Apfel tells POPSUGAR at The Colony Palm Hotel in West Palm Beach, FL. At 100 years old, the renowned interior designer — dressed in a turquoise pantsuit with layered pearl necklaces, colorful bangles, and her signature glasses — is an expert on personal style. Over the course of her 72-year career, she has worked as a copywriter for Women’s Wear Daily, decorated the White House for nine US presidents, and curated museum exhibitions around the world. Her latest venture is a limited edition of clothing, accessories, and shoes for H&M launching on April 14.
“Great style comes from great curiosity about yourself.”
Apfel is one of those rare style icons whose influence transcends generations. She has 2.2 million followers on Instagram and 34K on TikTok, most of whom will undoubtedly flock to buy the new Iris Apfel x H&M collection. The business mogul has plenty of advice for that new generation of fashion tastemakers. To find their personal style, she says, they simply “have to get to know who they are.”
Apfel has always championed self-knowledge as a portal to style discovery. She’s been quoted saying that “Great style comes from great curiosity about yourself” and that “Your personality is the ultimate accessory.” Apfel’s own unique sense of style has been the subject of a museum exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a popular documentary called “Iris.” Her knack for styling bright colors, maximalist prints, and eye-catching accessories has cemented her place as a fashion legend — a status she’s parlayed into ventures in textile fabrication and interior design.
She brings that singular sense of style into her new collection for H&M, blending her maximalist aesthetic with H&M’s mastery of modern silhouettes. A pair of crystal-trimmed sunglasses captures her passion for personality-driven accessories, while an embroidered coat dress nods to her knowledge of textiles. There’s also an orange minidress with printed inserts, a textured kelly-green feather jacket, a pair of mustard-yellow jacquard trousers, a two-piece set trimmed with purple tassels, and a green maxi dress with a cascading hem.
When asked about the inspiration behind the collection, Apfel silently throws her hands up and starts pulling on invisible threads — a gesture nodding to the many influences at play. She has more to say about the price point, which ranges from $30 to $150. “I’m a great one for high fashion at an intelligent price. Why shouldn’t people have good clothes and interesting-looking, offbeat things at a decent price? So, that’s my mission and that’s what I do in all my designing, for everything.”
Ahead of the April 14 collection launch on H&M, Apfel opens up about her creative process, her thoughts on accessible luxury, and the journey to define one’s personal style. Scroll through for our full interview.