So, I just finished watching Iris, the latest fashion documentary about clotheshorse, interior designer and aesthetic visionary, Iris Apfel. I had to report back to you guys immediately. She really got me thinking about conviction. Her unwavering conviction in her own fashion sense is quite remarkable. Iris doesn’t care what other people think is stylish; nor does she put much thought into what to pair with what. “With me it’s not intellectual,” she says, “It’s all gut. I see something: ‘Oh that will go with this,’ so, I try it on. It’s totally totally the involvement and the process. I like the process much better even than wearing it.”
And I was like, HALLELUJAH! Preach, girl. Preach. You bend over that fireplace in full raccoon and light yo cigarette:
In that moment I was actually quite upset with myself. It’s so easy to be swayed by trends, wearability, the influencers who influence the influencers. Like, I’m pretty sure my love for Chloé has something to do with every single person who I follow being a #ChloeGirl and seeing that damn Faye bag every second Instagram. But after watching Iris, I had to ask myself: “Do I even really like Chloé?” Like if I saw the bag in a 99cent bin at a Flea Market, would I be all like ‘oh my godddddddd I love this omgggggg I’m dying. Slayyyyyyyyyyyyy”????????????
You see, Iris can turn a priest’s robe into a colourful tunic. A Chinese poncho into a top with collar. African textiles haggled in Harlem into a red carpet soiree. Tibetan bracelets that weigh 10 pounds each into a 30-minute-only outfit. And boy, what a half hour of style that must be. Iris doesn’t need to follow style rules, like the ones I oftentimes subject myself to, in order to feel like she looks great.
And that, my dearest friends, is so inspiring! There is so much of the same same out there. Camel coats with motorcycle jeans and Chelsea boots, over and over again. Mini skirts and thigh highs. Black. White. And so on and so forth. Sometimes I even feel like I won’t get as many followers or readers if I don’t subscribe to the blatant yet unwritten rules of fashion, nowadays. I mean, only true fame can afford someone (and survive) the expression of individuality – but until then, we wear our camel coats and hope that someone (or a few thousand) will like it.
Every so often, the grandmothers of fashion come into my mind via a picture or a movie or a Pinterest board, and I’m quickly reminded that they had no Instagram with which to compare one another’s #OOTDs. In fact, for them, it was all about the getting dressed for the party and not necessarily the party. I think someone like Leandra Medine, for better or for worse, really embodies that spirit.
If, one day, your outfit is going to be regarded as a work of art – it probably won’t be a forgery of some peony latte monochrome hashtag Dior shades Celine bag Chloé Chloé Chloé white sneakers and an iPhone case with googly eyes look. I’m sorry, there is no art in that. And yes, beauty is subjective but we must have the courage to identify what is safe and mainstream vs. what is truly sublime. No, I’m not above it; I struggle with it every single day. Do I wear what I want or what will get likes?
That, is the question.
The grandmothers of fashion: Iris Apfel, Jacqueline de Ribes, Babe Paley, Marisa Berenson, Loulou de la Falaise… to name a few.