Editor's note: The following essay was rekeyed and reprinted on May 17, 2008 in Resource Library with permission of the Nassau County Museum of Art. If you have questions or comments regarding the essay, please contact the Nassau County Museum of Art directly through either this phone number or web address:


Iris Apfel: Rare Bird of Fashion

by Constance Schwartz


Nassau County Museum of Art is proud to present Iris Apfel: Rare Bird of Fashion. This novel exhibition traces a life-long career in fashion, a singular one that dramatically portrays the true independence of its subject, Iris Apfel.

Iris has been and continues to be an innovative rule-breaking arbiter of fashion. She has chosen an artistic approach reflecting her own particular tastes which range from eclecticism to sensuality and wit. Renowned for her originality in mixing and matching wardrobe items from disparate sources, Iris' daring and incredible eye create a wholly new and wonderful assemblage. Fashion truly reaches to the level of art as she pairs couture from renowned designers ranging from Ralph Rucci to Bill Blass, Fendi to Dior, mixing these designer creations with elaborate, exotic costume jewelry and accessories that have been purchased at flea markets, bazaars and retail establishments throughout the world. The lavish displays to be seen in Iris Apfel: Rare Bird of Fashion are all derived from Iris' wardrobe, closets, shelves and drawers.

Drawing the viewer into the unique and sociable world of art, this exhibition is arranged in an intriguing series of tableaux, each embracing a fashion statement. These themes are explored in a variety of environments that take viewers to the four corners of the world -- from the mysterious Far East to the icy Artic wastes. The mannequins themselves, more than 90 of them, have been dressed and modeled to replicate Iris' distinctive look, each becoming an icon of incisive and visual poetry.

This exhibition has been made possible through the vision and support of Iris Apfel and has been creatively curated by JoAnne Olian, curator emeritus of the Museum of the City of New York. Joe Pescatore of Nassau Community College and Parsons The New School of Design has designed the extraordinary installation and has given unlimited time to this project. Our sincere appreciation is extended to them as well as to Arthur Levine, chairman of the museum's exhibition committee who has been the guiding light for the concept of this presentation. The reality of an exhibition can only be fulfilled with the proper funding and we want to thank Loehmann's for its generous sponsorship as well Astoria Federal Savings for its support. We also want to thank Anton Publications and The Boulevard Magazine for their extensive media contributions. And, to the viewers who will share the special qualities of this exhibition, thank you for your support and appreciation of Nassau County Museum of Art. It is exceedingly meaningful to us.

About the author:

Constance Schwartz is the Nassau County Museum of Art's Executive Director.



Additional images from the exhibition





All above photos are of objects from the exhibition Iris Apfel: Rare Bird of Fashion, which opens on May 20, and remains on view through September 7, 2008 at the Nassau County Museum of Art. Photos courtesy of Nassau County Museum of Art.


Editor's note:

This essay was authored in conjunction with the exhibition Iris Apfel: Rare Bird of Fashion which opens on May 20, and remains on view through September 7, 2008 at the Nassau County Museum of Art. For further texts concerning the exhibition please click here.

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