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She has a shock of white hair, signature thick, round black glasses – and is adorned by a vast number of fabulous bracelets and necklaces. You’ve probably seen Iris Apfel at galleries, openings, flea markets, and in the pages of The New York Times’s Styles section. “My mother worshipped at the altar of the accessory,” confides the 93-year-old fashion icon to 87-year-old legendary documentarian Albert Maysles, long famous (with his brother David) for SALESMAN, GIMME SHELTER, and GREY GARDENS. Iris is a master of bravura style: mixing valuable antiques, colorful plastic doodads, Native American handicrafts, and high-end costume pieces, all to wonderful effect. The furthest thing from an empty-headed fashionista, she is witty and disarming, unpretentious, and full of the kind of wisdom you wish your grandmother had imparted.


Complemented by Vivian Ostrovsky’s short paean to fashion, LOSING THE THREAD. In the spirit of Iris Apfel, it’s a funny and stylish compendium that conflates Coco Chanel, Charles Bukowski, Fellini’s , Soviet fabrics from the 1920s, Man Ray’s art, and much else.


“CRITICS’ PICK. There are few better ways right now to spend 80 movie minutes than to see IRIS, a delightful eye-opener about life, love, statement eyeglasses, bracelets the size of tricycle tires and the art of making the grandest of entrances… A documentary about a very different kind of woman who holds your imagination from the moment she appears. You can’t take your eyes off Iris Apfel… Her turns of phrase are s vibrantly ornamented as her body… There are several stories folded into IRIS – a marriage tale, an ode to multiculturalism and a fashion spectacular – it is also about the insistent rejection of monocultural conformity… He’s now gone (Albert Maysles) and you sense that this portrait of a glorious rebel is also and unmistakably a self-portrait.”
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Read the full review here.

“Apfel (is) a collector and a mix-and-matcher at an exalted level of visionary effervescence. (Her) sharp, unfiltered aphorisms make the movie a glittering trove of wisdom.”
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker
Read his blog post here.

“IRIS is about much more than what we see on the surface, no matter how dazzling that surface may be. It’s a celebration of the revivifying power of creativity. Maysles’s camera opens its eyes wide to Apfel, taking the measure of her wildly beautiful and witty outfits. There’s delight here in Maysles’s way of seeing... with nothing but openness to joy and beauty. IRIS is a wonderful parting shot. It’s also very quietly moving. Captures, with the delicate touch of a watercolor brush, the fragility of (Carl’s) health. He clearly gets a kick out of just about everything his wife says, does, or wears.”
– Stephanie Zacharek, Village Voice
Read the full review here.

“A profile that’s daffy, brassy, inspiring. Apfel is a quintessential New York character.” 
– Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

“Critic’s Picks. A winning profile. Almost as fun as shopping itself.”
– Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

“Albert Maysles has delivered a gem.  It takes intuition, guile, and experience to capture the essence of a subject and render it as informally as Maysles does here. Everything that comes out of [Iris’s] mouth is funny or wise or both.  She is a fount of one-liners.”
– Graham Fuller, Screen Daily


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IRIS / Q & A with film subject Iris Apfel

(Recorded May 1, 2015)

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IRIS / Q & A with producers Laura Coxson & Rebekah Maysles

(Recorded April 29, 2015)

Film Forum