We're all Iris.
After seeing "Iris," the new documentary by veteran filmmaker Alfred Maysles (since deceased) at the Criterion (with all couples, by the way), I reached my conclusion. Iris Apfel is a spectacular human being, not just because of her wild creativity and savvy business acumen, but because she always dressed to give pleasure.
With bright lipstick, always lipstick.
The funny part is, I totally relate to Iris. I mean, I'm not 93, I don't live on Park Avenue or didn't grow up Jewish in NYC during the Depression, but I completely understand the need to dress to express yourself. What I do (or, just as significantly, don't do) to my outside governs how people perceive me.
Unlike Iris, I don't wear jewelry (ever), but I do curate my look. What I present to the world is of my own choosing, whether willful, lazy or accidental. It's up to me, of course
But it's not just me, everyone does. The friend with the killer record collection and the wardrobe culled from thrift stores has a certain look: sweet, offbeat and affordable. Another friend sticks to neutrals reliably sporting a sweater or wrap of some sort on her arms, hair always perfect.
Each of us decides how much or little effort they want to expend in presenting their exterior to the world.
For plenty of people, it's as simple as what gives you the greatest pleasure. In "Iris," she says that dressing up for a party or event is more enjoyable than the party itself. For others, the fuss of having to put one's self together for public viewing is a pain so they don't bother.
Iris Apfel called herself a "geriatric starlet" after her exhibit at the Met displayed some of her vast wardrobe and accessory collection. This is where I am an utter failure because if anyone wanted to do a show about my style, it would be as simple as a dress and shoes. Unlike Iris, I have no scores of African bangles, Tibetan cloaks and priestly robes.
But how I dress could be considered distinctive for simpler reasons. I'm that woman who never wears pants or jewelry. There are far fewer of us than you might think. Iris would be appalled at my lack of ornamentation but I cringe at the thought of wearing so many accessories that that's what people remember about me.
Far better they remember my laugh or that I was clever or funny. Absent that, I'd appreciate if they noticed my legs. But for goodness' sake, notice.
Iris and I wouldn't bother if we didn't want you to notice and comment. No, really.