Film Review: Iris


irisFor Albert Maysles’ final documentary feature he chose to focus on 94-year-old New York fashion mainstay Iris Apfel. The film Iris documents Apfel’s careers as a fashion icon, interior designer, jewelry designer, and all around taste-maker. Much of the movie is made up of “day in the life” style segments, following Iris to meetings, exhibits and talk show appearances while telling us her story through interviews with Iris, her husband Carl, and many others close to the couple. We are given an insightful look into Iris’ upbringing and her entrée into fashion, as well as how she continues to advise and influence people to this day.

I have little knowledge of the fashion world, so this film could have been a chore, but it was anything but. Iris is a fascinating character with an array of great stories about her travels and work in her multi-faceted career. Some of the interesting stories include her claim to be the first woman to wear jeans in the fashion industry and even doing interior design for the White House. Maysles’ style is simple but effective as he inserts himself into the narrative as little as possible and really lets the subjects get comfortable. Through this classic documentary style, we are treated to a well-rounded view of Iris’ career and life.

Iris will certainly be of interest to those with an interest in fashion and design, but I would also recommend it to those who enjoy an interesting character study. Whether you are familiar with Iris Apfel or not, once you have seen this film you certainly won’t forget her abundance of costume jewelry, her oversized glasses and most of all, her attitude.

Iris (2014); Dir: Albert Maysles; Starring: Iris Apfel, Carl Apfel

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